Thousands of doctors planning to leave the NHS citing pandemic stress and burnout
Thousands of doctors are planning to leave the NHS in the coming year, exhausted by the coronavirus pandemic.
A survey by the British Medical Association found that half of doctors plan to work fewer hours, one in four were more likely to take a career break and 21% were considering leaving the NHS for a different career.
The tracker survey was responded to by 2,099 people.
Many blamed their workload, including an inability to take breaks, and almost 40% said they did not have anywhere at work where they could relax safely with colleagues.
An acute speciality doctor who outlined their workload told the BMA: “My own mental and physical health will have to become a priority at some point.”
The doctor, who was not identified by the BMA, said: “A ‘break’ on shift means I try to grab 10 minutes in my office to down a cup of tea and catch up on some of the hundreds of emails I need to read before inevitably being called back out.
“My usual finish time on these shifts is around two hours after I’m rostered to leave. I spend my rest days catching up on the rest of the emails I don’t have time to deal with at work. It’s exhausting.
“I’ve started exploring career opportunities outside of the NHS. I don’t know yet if I’ll leave clinical medicine, but I’m seriously considering it. If the right opportunity presents itself I’ll go for it.
“It’s a tough thing to consider, I love the NHS but I know I can’t keep this pace up indefinitely.”
Also, the number of UK doctors considering early retirement has rocketed from 14% last June to 32% in April’s survey.
Dr Chaand Nagpaul, chairman of the BMA council, said the results of the survey showed a “deeply worrying” situation.
He said the NHS needed “talented, experienced professionals… more than ever to pull this country out of a once-in-a-generation health crisis”.
And there is no sign that the stress is ending – according to NHS England, the number of patients waiting more than 52 weeks for hospital treatment was 387,885 in February, the highest number for a calendar month since December 2007.
In February 2020, before the pandemic, the number was just 1,613.
A Department of Health and Social Care spokesman said: “This government is committed to supporting the NHS and its staff in the fight against COVID and beyond.
“There are record numbers of doctors, nurses and NHS staff – over 1.18m – and there are now more medical students in training than at any point in NHS history.
“We are backing our NHS with an extra £7bn for health and care services this year, bringing our total additional COVID-19 investment to £92bn, including £1bn to support NHS recovery by tackling waiting lists.”
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