Consultant anaesthetist Dr Nikki Thompson spoke out after taking over as chairman of the British Medical Association's Scottish Consultants Committee (SCC), which negotiates on behalf of the profession in Scotland.
Outlining some of the issues facing senior hospital doctors in coming years, Dr Thompson said: "The NHS is in a prolonged period of financial restraint and doctors are working harder than ever before to maintain the focus on quality and achieve improved outcomes for patients in such a difficult environment."
She pointed out a high number of NHS consultant posts are currently vacant in Scotland, saying it was essential the country could attract and retain good staff.
"There are already some specialities where it is becoming particularly difficult to recruit and we are starting to see the impact of that on the provision of services," she said.
Dr Thompson went on to add: "Doctors report that they are facing relentless pressure in their day-to-day work just to keep up with the pace of demand and meet targets whilst maintaining the quality of care they believe their patients deserve.
"This increased intensity of work, unless addressed, will lead to rising levels of stress and burnout amongst doctors."
Dr Thompson, who has served as a deputy chairman to the SCC for the last three years, takes over from outgoing chairman Dr Lewis Morrison.