Close to 50 per cent of doctors suffer from emotional exhaustion related to burnout, according to researchers.

The study also found many GPs feel disengaged and have a reduced sense of personal achievement.

Researchers claim the survey of more than 500 doctors is the largest assessment of the profession using an established test of burnout called the Maslach Burnout Inventory.

The report concluded that “a significant group of doctors is in trouble”.

The results showed that 42 per cent of GPs feel detached from their surroundings - expressed as negativity and cynicism - with those who work in group practices more likely to suffer than single-handed doctors.

The study’s authors described this as “disappointing” as they believed group practices should offer more support.

“The finding could be the result of group practice creating extra demands on practitioners while raising the possibility of interpersonal tensions and conflicts,” they added.

Mental exhaustion - another condition related to burnout - was evident in 46 per cent of GPs questioned, while one in three (34 per cent) felt they were “not achieving a great deal”.

But a study of almost 1,900 patients found that burnout did not impact on doctors’ professionalism.

The researchers warned that their results warranted attention from the doctors themselves and their professional bodies.

The report stated: “The NHS nationally and locally needs to review its policies, especially when generating increased pressures for this, the largest group of NHS doctors.”

The report, which surveyed 564 GPs in Essex, will be published in the BMJ Open journal.