GP practices have dealt with an increasing number of homeless patients over the last five years, a BMA survey has found.
The news comes as today marks 'Blue Monday' - widely recognised as the UK's most depressing day of the year after the indulgences of Christmas and the end of the festive holidays.
The three pieces, which are part of a wider College exhibition called What Once Was Imagined (WOWI), highlight the realities of living with mental health problems, such as depression and anxiety – two of the most common conditions currently being diagnosed in the UK.
The collection is the creation of textile artist Susie Freeman and her long-time friend, Dr Liz Lee, who have worked together for more than 20 years in a collaboration known as Pharmacopoeia.
Some pieces have been inspired by Freeman's own experiences, like Wave - a delicate stretch of blue fabric decorated with the emptied packets of the medication she took for depression.
"I have lived with intermittent bouts of depression for several years and for some people it presents itself as a 'black dog', but for me it was a deep blue," she said.
"I wanted to show this in the exhibition and for the work to not only create a discussion about the advancements of modern medicine, but also about how vitally important this medication is for some people, and why there should never be any shame or stigma attached to taking it."
Other key pieces include:
Miss Essex: a representation of a young woman with serious mental health problems - a large metal wire handbag covered in the hundreds of pills she hoarded while pretending to take the drugs.
Purple Haze: a collection of medication for agoraphobia – a smaller handbag dotted with the pills needed to manage fear and anxiety associated with open or public places.
Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard, Chair of the Royal College of GPs, added: "With 90% of people with mental health problems cared for entirely within primary care, GPs are acutely aware of the prevalence of these conditions and the impacts they can have on our patients' lives.
"But no patient wants to be reliant on – and no GP wants to prescribe – any medication long-term unless completely necessary, and where possible we will explore alternatives, such as talking therapies and CBT.
"However, there is a severe lack of these services and choice of therapies in the community that could benefit our patients with mental health conditions, which needs to change.
"NHS England's GP Forward View pledged for every GP practice to have access to one of 3,000 new mental health therapists. We need this, and its other promises - including £2.4bn extra a year for general practice and 5,000 more GPs - to be delivered as a matter of urgency, so that we can continue to provide the best possible mental health care to our patients.
"There is still a long way to go, but we hope this exhibition helps break down the outdated stigmas around mental health, and educate the public about the very real impacts these conditions can have on some patients' lives."
The exhibition is free to visit at 30 Euston Square until May 2019.
Exclusive Health secretary Matt Hancock has hinted the state-backed indemnity scheme - due to start in April - could be funded using GP core funding.
She said: "We are currently seeing a steady increase in the overall number of flu presentations in general practices across the UK at present, which is the usual annual pattern, and our teams are operating under considerable pressure as we try to deal with this seasonal demand.
"While influenza for most patients is incredibly unpleasant, it is not generally serious and symptoms usually pass within a week or two. However, for some patients, it does have the potential to become much more serious, particularly those in vulnerable groups, such as the elderly, young children or pregnant women – or people are living with long-term conditions, like heart disease.
"It's encouraging to see confirmation that this year's vaccine is well-matched to the circulating strains of flu, so we're confident that those eligible for the jab are getting the protection they need, but there are still at-risk patients who haven't had it, and flu can sometimes spread until early spring.
"We would therefore, urge anyone in at-risk groups who has not yet had the vaccine to make sure they get it as a matter of urgency – it isn't too late, it only takes a few seconds and can protect against some really unpleasant symptoms.
"For people who do develop flu, the best thing to do is get lots of rest and stay hydrated. Where possible, we would also encourage patients not to mix with other people, particularly the elderly or other ‘at-risk’ people, such as pregnant women, to try to avoid spreading the virus further."
Four in ten patients feel their GP practice is a poor environment that makes them feel anxious or stressed, according to a survey
GPs and their teams are making an increasing number of patient consultations every year – and research has shown workload is increasing both in volume and complexity. Yet, the latest workforce data from NHS Digital shows that there are fewer FTE family doctors in the workforce than there were two years ago – and data published on Thursday showed that 3m patients waited more than three weeks for an appointment in December last year.
Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard, Chair of the Royal College of GPs, said: "Our patients are living longer – that's one of the great wonders of modern medicine – but as they do, they are increasingly living with multiple, chronic conditions, which has a massive impact on workload in general practice, both in terms of volume and complexity.
"Unfortunately, as this data shows, the GP workforce is not rising with demand - indeed, we have fewer full-time equivalent GPs delivering patient care than we had two years ago. As a result, each GP is responsible for more patients – and more elderly patients, who typically have greater and more complex health needs – every year.
"This increasing pressure without the sufficient resources or an increased workforce of fully-qualified GPs to cope with it is untenable. The fact that GP workload is escalating and set to continue to do so - particularly with the drive to deliver more care out of hospitals stated clearly in the NHS long-term plan - whilst the GP workforce is still falling runs the risk of a perfect storm.
"We know that GPs are already stressed and burning out, in many cases leaving the profession earlier than they planned to, and a shortage of GPs is the main reason why patients are waiting too long for an appointment.
"NHS England's long-term plan for the health service has some great aspirations that promise to benefit patients – and it recognises the importance of GPs and their wider team of healthcare professionals for the sustainability of the NHS. But the plan will need the comprehensive workforce challenges we currently face to be solved, if we are to be able to deliver the vision.
"The forthcoming workforce strategy must explore all possible options to both recruit more GPs to the profession – and there is some excellent work ongoing in this respect - but also to retain our existing, hard-working and experienced workforce, as well as looking to use the skills of other healthcare professionals to best support the delivery of general practice.
"Key to this will be looking at how to reduce escalating workload – particularly the bureaucracy and red tape that diverts GPs from patient care - to make working in general practice more sustainable and removing incentives to retire early for GPs who might not necessarily want to.
"Ultimately, we need to see NHS England's GP Forward View, which promised an extra £2.5bn a year for general practice, delivered, in full, as soon as possible, along with guarantees that general practice will receive a significant share of the additional funding earmarked for primary and community care outlined in the NHS Long-Term Plan."
A GP practice in rural Wales has applied to close one of its surgeries to ensure patient safety and ‘prevent the complete long-term collapse of the area’s local primary care services’.
More than three-quarters of doctors say they have been assaulted or threatened by a patient or their relative while practising.
Staff shortages could ‘presents a real risk’ to the impact of the £20.5bn NHS funding boost, the National Audit Office has said.
Doctors have 'lost almost all faith' in their pay review body due to its 'complete lack of independence' from the Government, according to the BMA.
GP patients in Gosport have been banned from switching surgeries after a dramatic exodus of patients from a hospital-managed GP practice left others overwhelmed.
Scottish GP leaders are seeking ‘concrete reassurance’ from the Government that practices will not have to foot the bill for a proposed increase in employer pension contributions.
“This review is a vote of confidence in GP partnerships and shows that they are an important and viable option for GPs at all stages of their careers, now and in the future – but there are clear challenges that must be addressed, and this review confronts some of the key issues as to why we are currently finding it more difficult to recruit GP partners.
"We particularly welcome the focus on reducing unnecessary workload in general practice and increasing both the GP workforce, and the wider practice team.
"Workload in general practice has escalated in recent years both in terms of volume and complexity, and we are now making over a million patient consultations every day, yet we are doing this with a smaller share of the NHS budget than we had a decade ago, and fewer GPs than we did two years ago.
"Our members consistently tell us about the red tape they have to deal with daily that gets in the way of what matters – direct patient care. So, the report's recommendations to reduce the bureaucracy involved with CQC inspections, appraisal and revalidation and GDPR compliance - and to simplify and streamline the communication we have with colleagues across the NHS, must all be explored and implemented.
"Ultimately, no model of general practice will be sustainable without sufficient numbers of GPs and our teams, so the recommendations to implement fellowships for newly qualified GPs, extend and enhance the GP retention scheme, and ensure the GP training budget reflects the true cost of delivering placements in general practice, are all also welcome – as is the recommendation to ensure the status of general practice by formally recognising it as a specialty.
"This report is optimistic and pragmatic – and has benefitted from being GP-led and having such rich GP input – but implementing the recommendations effectively will depend on having the funding and workforce to do so and hope the forthcoming workforce strategy will address this.
"We urgently need the promises made in NHS England's GP Forward View, for £2.5bn extra a year for general practice and 5,000 more GPs – and a guarantee that our profession will receive a significant share of the funding outlined for primary and community care in the NHS long term plan – delivered in full and as a matter of urgency.
"We eagerly await the response of the Secretary of State and Simon Stevens to the review and detail about how they plan to take forward these recommendations."
"We also know how soul-destroying it can be for hard-working GPs and our teams – across the country making more than a million patients a day – to see newspaper headlines unfairly admonishing their clinical skill and expertise and undermining their remarkable dedication to patient care. This can definitely have a negative impact on morale in general practice, and poses a real challenge to efforts to recruit more GPs and retain our existing workforce.
"It's frustrating because being a GP can be the best job in the world; it is intellectually stimulating, full of variety and allows doctors to build relationships with patients that simply aren't possible in other medical specialties – we just need the time and resources to do it properly.
"Without GPs and their teams, millions of patients wouldn't be able to get the care they need, close to home where they want it, and hospitals and other secondary care services would simply implode under the pressure.
"That's why we need to continue to do everything we can to make general practice an attractive career path and boost recruitment, including calling on the government to make sure it is properly resourced and funded for the future.
"This means seeing NHS England's GP Forward View, which promises an extra £2.5bn a year for general practice, delivered, in full, as soon as possible, along with guarantees that general practice will receive a significant share of the funding for primary and community care outlined in the NHS Long-Term Plan."
Mainstream media portrayals of GPs are overwhelmingly negative, and markedly worse than portrayals of hospital doctors, a study has found.
Different legal structures must be made available to partners holding GMS and PMS contracts to mitigate the risk of unlimited liability that partners face, according to the review of the partnership model in England.
Significant opportunities’ to reduce the personal risk and unlimited liability that comes with being a partner must be harnessed by the NHS to attract more GPs into the role, according to the review of the partnership model in England.
GP pension arrangements should be overhauled in a bid to stop GPs retiring early or reducing their sessions, the partnership review has said.
Extended access services are enticing GPs away from practices, as the work is 'easier', the chair of the Government’s GP partnership review has said.
CCGs should fund data protection officers to help overworked practices cope with patient data requests, the GP partnership review has suggested.