One in five doctors feel overwhelmed daily at work

The Royal College of Physicians has revealed that one in five doctors had felt overwhelmed at work almost every day during the pandemic.

The members survey also found that more than two thirds of doctors have felt overwhelmed at least once while at work in the past three weeks. Some 27.5 per cent of respondents said they had felt overwhelmed once or twice during this period, 21.5 per cent once or twice a week.

This is likely due to high levels of staff absence, which although slightly improved on last month, is still putting immense pressure on exhausted and demoralised staff working under the extreme pressure of rising coronavirus cases coupled with usual winter illnesses.

The RCP’s survey found that across the UK, 7.5 per cent of respondents were off work and 3.5 per cent due to coronavirus. With so many people off work, 55 per cent go doctors have been asked to fill a rota gap at short notice at least once during the past three weeks, adding yet further stress to their working days. Of those, almost a quarter had been asked to fill a rota gap at least once while on annual leave.

However, even before the pandemic, half of consultant vacancies went unfilled. The RCP is urging the government to commit to a funded long-term workforce plan, along with strategies to improve recruitment and retention.

Andrew Goddard, president of the Royal College of Physicians, said: “We’re pleased to see that absence due to Covid-19 has fallen since December. But it’s clear that availability of workforce remains the limiting factor to both morale and the performance of the NHS.

“Staff are feeling as low as ever before. The conversations I have with colleagues every day, lead me to sense a real shift in how well people feel they are able to cope. We need to keep this in mind because while we may see some light at the end of the Covid-19 tunnel, we have a long way to go before we are through the current pressures and have even further to go to clear the backlog.”