Years of covering for absent colleagues, the pandemic, not feeling valued financially or professionally have left doctors “feeling worn out”, said the BMA Scotland chairman, Lewis Morrison.
Many doctors are considering moving elsewhere in the UK or abroad, taking early retirement, or reducing their hours as a “cocktail of problems” threatens the stability of healthcare in Scotland, he said.
It comes after BMA Scotland warned the 3 per cent pay increase for NHS medical and dental staff in Scotland “does virtually nothing” to help low morale or recruitment and retention problems.
A survey of 1,429 doctors after the pay award showed nearly two thirds did not think that the Scottish Government value their contribution to the NHS, with half of respondents expressing extreme dissatisfaction.
Three in 10 said the pay offer had either confirmed or prompted a decision to scale down their clinical commitments, said BMA Scotland.
Last year, 15 per cent of consultant posts were unfilled while the country was short of about 800 full-time GPs, it added.
In a speech to the BMA’s annual representative meeting next week, Dr Morrison will say: “We now have huge evidence of how tired so many colleagues are from delivering Covid care and everything else that patients need, with the addition of all the pent-up demand for healthcare that is currently being released.
“It is a statement of fact that the physical and mental health of many doctors has suffered during this pandemic.
“Fact it may be, but we cannot accept this as inevitable. No-one – in any profession, let alone a caring one – should suffer in this way or at this scale – simply through doing their job.
“It’s no wonder doctors at all stages of their career are considering their options whether it be to improve their training, working conditions or work-life balance.
“That’s a cocktail of problems that threatens the sustainability of healthcare in Scotland, let alone recovery from the pandemic.”
Dr Morrison said leaders had held a “a constructive meeting” with Health Secretary Humza Yousaf this week “where we were able to highlight key issues and gain a welcome commitment to work on them together”.