Overworked doctors plan to leave the NHS

The BMA has warned that thousands of overworked doctors plan to leave the NHS as many struggle to get the respite they need from pandemic and express fears about unmanageable demand.

The association’s latest tracker survey found that 25 per cent of doctors feel that they re more likely to take a career break, with a further 21 per cent considering leaving the NHS altogether for another career.

Asked why, many doctors pointed to workload, including the inability to take breaks or leave. In fact, almost 40 per cent of respondents say they don’t even have a place at work where they can safely relax with colleagues, but know that they’d find it beneficial if they did.

This means that the number of UK doctors now considering early retirement has more than doubled in less than 12 months, with 32 per cent of respondents (1,352) to April’s survey considering leaving the NHS early (compared to 14 per cent last June).

Dr Chaand Nagpaul, BMA council chair, said: “It’s deeply worrying that more and more doctors are considering leaving the NHS because of the pressures of the pandemic – talented, experienced professionals who the NHS needs more than ever to pull this country out of a once-in-a-generation health crisis.

“Doctors and other healthcare workers have told us they need space and time to rest and recuperate – especially as we look ahead to tackling the frightening  backlog of care of millions of patients. Far too many doctors and healthcare workers are being denied even a space to unwind in at work, never mind a proper break and time to recuperate. This is leading to a detrimental impact on doctors’ health and well-being and forcing them to feel as though they have no choice but to abandon a profession they love and worked so hard to achieve.

“For those that stay, working without respite endangers patient care from doctors becoming exhausted and burnt out -  we’ve already seen an increase in staff taking sick leave, further draining the NHS of its precious workforce.

“Doctors’ suggestions of leaving the NHS are on the rise, highlighting the desperate situation many of our members currently find themselves in. This is not something that can be pushed down the queue – it’s a ticking time bomb that the UK government must act on as a matter of urgency. Without doing so, we face a mass exodus of staff leaving the NHS and patient care put in serious jeopardy, all at a time when we need our health service more than ever before.”

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