GPs working in the most deprived communities in Scotland have warned of increasing levels of mental and physical health problems among patients affected by austerity.

The Deep End group of GPs, representing 360 doctors in 100 practices, said job losses, welfare reform and cuts to social services were all affecting the health of their patients.

The 100 Deep End group of general practices that serves the most socio-economically deprived areas of the country was set up in 2009. It is backed financially by the Scottish Government.

In a new report, the group says austerity measures are causing increased distress and poverty among their patients, and an increased workload for family doctors.

The GPs add that the growing impact of benefit cuts mean much of their time is taken up with social issues rather than patients' underlying health problems.

In February, the group surveyed members to ask about their experiences of austerity. Doctors responded that patients were suffering deteriorating mental health, and also physical problems.

The report says: "GPs report less time to deal with physical problems, as these are no longer a priority for the patient."

Benefit changes were also a concern for many GPs, because they felt patients were wrongly being declared fit to work in medical tests on behalf of the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP).

The report states this causes great distress to patients, while increasing the workload of GPs, who are called upon to write letters to support appeals.

"This impacts on practice time that would otherwise have been spent on health concerns," the report notes.

The survey results have now been sent to every MP and MSP.

Margaret Craig, a GP at the Allander Surgery in Possil, is on the Deep End steering group. She said the cases in the report are reflected in the lives of patients she sees daily, and said the system of assessing people as fit for work was particularly frustrating.

She said: "So may people who are clearly unfit for work are being assessed as capable of work after a cursory assessment.

"We see people with uncontrolled chronic conditions, who are physically quite disabled or have significant mental health problems. The system seems to maximise their distress.

"The majority appeal and the majority of them win."

The report draws attention to the impact of cuts in other public services, such as education, social work and addiction support. Dr Craig added: "The minimum pricing of alcohol is a great thing, but addiction services are falling by the wayside. Austerity measures also affect children, but social work only have the resources to get involved in the most disturbed and difficult situations."

Dr Graham Watt, professor of General Practice at Glasgow University, helped compile the report. He said: "These GPs are absolutely on the front line. Many of them are frustrated that they can see all this happening but people don't know about it."

Aberdeen South MP Anne Begg chairs the work and pensions select committee at Westminster, and has written to Iain Duncan Smith over the report. She said: "The problems being picked up by GPs are as a result of decisions being taken by the DWP and welfare reform."

A spokeswoman for the DWP said work capability assessments had been radically improved over the last two years.

A Scottish Government spokesman said: "We have always argued for reform of the welfare system that is simpler, makes work pay and is fairer while maximising the potential for all people to work and live free from poverty."