Healthcare news

One in three NHS doctors 'burnt out'

A survey of doctors has discovered the impact of their job on their emotional well being
Seanín Graham

NORTHERN Ireland doctors are the most resilient in the NHS but continue to suffer from burnout and "compassion fatigue", a major study has found.

More than 1,600 medics from across the UK discussed the emotional impact of their job at a time of unprecedented work pressures.

Published in the BMJ Open Journal, it found that almost a third may be "burnt out".

A&E doctors and GPs reported the highest levels of exhaustion and stress.

A geographical breakdown showed that doctors working in Northern Ireland scored higher in terms of resilience than their counterparts in England, Scotland and Wales.

Hospital-based doctors also scored higher for resilience than GPs.

Doctors in Northern Ireland are currently faced with the worst waiting lists on record, with A&E units reporting thousands of 12-hour breaches over the Christmas period amid severe workforce shortages and a big spike in the number of patients presenting.

Dr Chaand Nagpaul, chair of the British Medical Association, said: "Years of systemic underfunding and serious workforce shortages mean NHS doctors are working longer hours in highly pressured, understaffed environments, and their wellbeing is suffering as a result."

The vast majority of the 1,651 doctors who took part in the survey last autumn were women.

Of those who responded, almost a third reported high burnout, more than a quarter had "high secondary traumatic stress", and 31 per cent had compassion fatigue.

Their overall score for resilience was found to be 65 out of 100 - with doctors in the north scoring 68.5.

Hospital doctors were more resilient than family doctors, and consultants were more resilient than recently qualified doctors.

Medics in A&E units were much more burned out and stressed than those in other areas of care.

GPs, meanwhile, had the lowest scores for compassion satisfaction.

Meanwhile, a separate study has found that almost one in five doctors who deliver babies have post-traumatic stress disorder from witnessing distressing events in their work.

In a survey of 1,095 UK obstetricians and gynaecologists, two-thirds said they had encountered traumatic situations during labour and birth.

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