A new reporting system is being rolled out in Devon to highlight the pressure on local GP surgeries.
Devon Local Medical Committee (LMC), has launched a new 'alert status' so practices can flag how much pressure they are under and when they have reached unsustainable and unsafe workload levels.
Devon LMC believes the system is the first of its kind in the country.
Dr Bruce Hughes, chair of the LMC, said the system would help GPs lobby for more resources.
Dr Hughes said: "The pressure acute hospitals are under is well publicised and is captured by the OPEL Framework. General practice has had no equivalent and so the Government, healthcare providers, commissioners and patients can sometimes assume that things are not so bad for local GP practices.
"The alert status will help us strengthen our case as we continue to lobby for more resources and less bureaucracy to ensure local general practice is sustainable in the future so patients receive appropriate treatment, care and support for their clinical needs."
Under the reporting scheme, GP surgeries are encouraged to complete a weekly report and grade themselves Green, Amber, Red or Black.
A 'green' status means the practice is running normally, with acceptable waiting times, while 'black' means the practice is unsafe to continue without intervention from stakeholders.
Practices send their anonymous report to the LMC - if they self assess as 'black' status they can identify themselves and request support from the local health system.
The Devon-wide alert status this week is 'amber', meaning there is a staff or resource shortage which is sustainable in the medium term.
The status is shared with local health partners, including NHS Devon, NHS England and NHS Improvement, as well as local hospitals, councils and the ambulance service.
Dr Hughes, a GP partner at Fremington Medical Centre, added: "This is a ground-breaking move for general practice.
"Devon is believed to be the first area in the country to roll out a GP alert status - our innovative scheme has attracted interest from several other LMCs who look set to follow suit."