Increased stress, anxiety and emotional exhaustion are some of the effects that the Covid-19 pandemic has had on doctors in the UK, a new survey from the British Medical Association (BMA) has shown.

More than 7,000 doctors responded to questions about their mental health and more than 2,000 provided personal accounts of the impact the Covid-19 pandemic has had on them.

Doctors identified long working hours in unfamiliar settings, worries about personal protective equipment (PPE), fear of contracting Covid-19 and passing it on to their loved ones, losing a high number of patients and seeing bereaved families as the main reasons behind their poor wellbeing.

“The pandemic has made me worry about myself, my husband, my children, my parents, my patients, colleagues and business. My anxiety has been relentless and changed the way I work, my self-worth and what I can provide for my patients. There feels like no light anywhere and no relief,” one doctor has responded in the survey.

The survey also found that 41 per cent of doctors were suffering from depression, anxiety, stress, burnout, emotional distress or another mental health conditions relating to or made worse by their work, with 29 per cent saying this had got worse during the pandemic.

The BMA’s wellbeing support services have also seen a 40 per cent increase in use over the last three months.

Dr David Wrigley, BMA council deputy chair and wellbeing lead said that throughout this pandemic doctors and healthcare workers have been painted as heroes – and the efforts that they have gone to in caring for their patients is certainly heroic. “However, they are not superhuman. They need to feel able to seek help and that help must be readily available,” he said.

He also called for extensive support for NHS staff that goes beyond the current pandemic. “Supporting the wellbeing of the health workforce must be a top priority in the long-term,” he added.