80% Of Doctors ‘At Risk Of Burnout’
Stress is having a huge impact on NHS staff, a new survey has revealed, indicating that eight out of ten doctors are now at serious risk of burnout.
The British Medical Association (BMA) study shows that the issue of stress, pressure and an unsustainable workload is very real, with more than a quarter of those asked saying they had received formal diagnoses of mental health conditions in the past – and 40 per cent admitted that they’re suffering from emotional or psychological distress, which is having an effect on their work, training or study.
Evidence was also uncovered of inadequate or no support for doctors when it was sought after, with medical students most likely to find help unacceptable.
And a strong relationship between the use of drugs, alcohol and other self-medication was also pinpointed among those doctors with current or previous mental health diagnoses. Some 62 per cent admitted that they use them as a way to cope.
BMA president Dinesh Bhugra is now leading a bigger project to find the best ways to improve the medical workforce’s mental health, which will lead to improvements in patient care.
“Medical students are surprisingly stressed, which is a bad sign, as these are some of the most energetic, enthusiastic people who want to help people by going into medicine.
“Informally, I’ve heard that some of these stresses come from financial problems and debt. They are also feeling that as they learn on simulators, on dolls and with actors that they do not develop the same empathy with patients.
“As the only organisation that looks after doctors in all specialties and across the UK, we should examine how terms and conditions in which people learn and practise could be improved. That’s my challenge to the BMA and I hope it takes this on board,” Mr Bhugra commented.
Earlier this year, Health Education England published a report recommending that guardians of workforce mental wellbeing be brought in across the NHS. The scheme would see dedicated staff enlisted at board level to provide both oversight and support to help promote staff mental health.
A proposal included in the report is the provision of check-ins to assess student wellbeing within two weeks of taking up a placement in healthcare, as well as rapid access referral pathways to occupational health and spaces for staff members to rest and sleep.
Andrew Molodynski, BMA mental health policy lead, noted that staff are essential for patient care delivery across the NHS and if the workforce isn’t a healthy one, the health service will “barely function, let alone thrive”.
He went on to say that the BMA is well aware that the mental health and wellbeing of doctors has been affected by the rising demands of their jobs, which is also true for medical students who face issues like stress, fatigue and traumatic clinical situations – often without the necessary support.
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