A senior clinician has raised his concerns about recent reports of poor working conditions for junior doctors in some Scottish hospitals.
Professor Derek Bell OBE, President of the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh, responded to allegations that medical staff are worried about risks to patient safety and fear they are being undermined by “bad bahaviour from nurses”.
Junior doctors have also spoken about their top heavy workload with the Victoria Hospital in Kirkcaldy and Glasgow Royal Infirmary singled out for criticism.
Those concerns were highlighted by NHS Education for Scotland (NES) after a series of inspections, following “red flags”.
Professor Bell has said that dismissing or minimising concerns raised by junior doctors will have a negative impact on morale, making the situation worse.
He says it is vital that Scotland’s junior doctors are valued and that every effort is made to improve workplace culture, rota structure, and general working conditions.
He said: “It is absolutely paramount that Scotland’s junior doctors are properly valued by their colleagues and hospital management but unfortunately, recent reports indicate that this is not always the case.
“This is a worrying trend in the context of our ability to retain doctors, and issues around behaviour of colleagues and rota structure – which may appear inhumane to many - should be addressed.
“The GMC National Training Survey for 2019 highlights a number of red flags in Scotland and the recent reports from health boards are concerning.
“These problems require positive action based on accepting that this is a growing problem.
“Alienation of doctors in training by dismissing or minimising their concerns will merely aggravate the situation.”
Professor Bell said that according to the latest census survey of physicians, which is a joint initiative between the three UK physician Colleges including the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh, there continues to be “significant pressures” across the UK with rota gaps, unfilled posts and high levels of sickness absence.
He added: “This impacts on quality of care, morale and patient safety - 40 per cent of consultants and 63 per cent of higher specialty trainees said rota gaps occurred on a daily or weekly basis with only 7 per cent and 12 per cent respectively said such gaps did not lead to significant patient safety issues.
“We must do all that we can to ensure that medicine is seen as a lifetime career, with many opportunities, rather than just a job which “plugs gaps”.
“Our new workforce campaign, Time For Doctors, highlights the importance of training, retaining and valuing our clinicians. Ensuring rest breaks are taken, that senior input is readily available and timing ward rounds to meet rota and training needs are all actions that can help.”
Scottish Conservative Health Spokesperson Miles Briggs, said: “Junior doctors are the future of our NHS and it is crucial they feel listened too and valued at work.Pressures on the NHS are going to continue to grow and it is vital we retain doctors to meet growing demand.
“The Scottish Conservatives are committed to ‘Looking after those who look after us’ which includes working conditions of all NHS staff.”