Call for more support for overworked doctors

A total of 80 per cent of doctors say they 'often or always' work beyond their time. Picture: Getty
A total of 80 per cent of doctors say they 'often or always' work beyond their time. Picture: Getty
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The British Medical Association in Scotland has called for doctors to receive better support from government after workloads and the impact on the health of medics were criticised in a survey.

The study found that 77 per cent of the 800 respondents said their work had harmed their health and wellbeing in the past year.

Around 23 per cent of those asked sought help for the effects to their health.

BMA Scotland chairman Dr Lewis Morrison said the findings showed “NHS Scotland needs to be a better place to work”.

The study showed that 83 per cent of those who responded saw their workload increase, as well as a further 80 per cent who “often or always” work beyond their time.

The union leader has called on the Scottish Government to work with NHS boards across the country to improve conditions for medics.

Dr Morrison said: “Worryingly, our survey also found that two-thirds of doctors do not believe their employer provides sufficient support for staff wellbeing. This simply has to change.

“It is clear that caring for those who care for the people of Scotland must now be a priority. Now, next year and always.

“That is why we are asking Scottish Government and NHS boards to work together to provide improved, effective and accessible support services for staff in both general practice and hospital-based care, who are working in such high-pressure environments.

“Clearly, part of the solution is to address the level of pressure in the workplace, but until fundamental changes are made, better support for staff is an urgent need.

“We are encouraged that the Cabinet Secretary has made positive announcements on this - in particular proposals for a specific health service for doctors in Scotland mirroring that which has been shown to work elsewhere in the UK.”

However, Mr Morrison said it is important that officials are not just “treating the symptoms and not the cause”, namely funding and resources within the health service.

He said: “Doctors’ work will always be potentially stressful, but current conditions in the NHS simply aren’t sustainable and, as a result, are creating unnecessary levels of pressure on all healthcare workers. We need a properly resourced system - and that means people, not just money.

“Simply saying again and again that we have record staffing doesn’t cut it. This repeated mantra risks dismissing the concerns of and pressures on those doctors working in services with rising vacancy levels.”