Heartsink patients cause doctors anxiety and stress. They account for 11% of average GP workload. Most GP's have 20 to 30 patients on their individual lists that they would label as heartsink. Heartsink patients are not always frequent attenders.

Heartsink patients are the doctor's problem, not the patient's. I do not have any heartsink patients as I believe that it is all a matter of attitude. If I am finding a particular patient difficult, I stop and look at why this is so. By exploring my own feelings, I find the source of my problem and can then address it. Often the feelings which heartsink patients generate in me are a reflection of a patient's own feelings: if I am feeling frustrated, this may well be because the patient is feeling this way.

The following list was posted on the internet in 1996: how do you feel about these issues?

"Irritating" patients