Make changes or risk losing up to half of the crucial junior doctor workforce, is the stark warning from the outgoing chair of the BMA’s Scottish junior doctor committee (SJDC), Dr Lailah Peel.
A snap survey of BMA Scotland junior doctor members found that almost half of those who responded – 49.8% – are considering leaving the profession in Scotland completely, within the next two years, with the current issues in the NHS leaving them feeling demoralised, undervalued and exhausted.
A staggering 90% of those who responded said the issues and challenges of working as a junior doctor in the NHS over the last year have decreased their morale – with 52% saying it has significantly decreased morale.
Dr Peel an A&E doctor, who will step down from her role as chair of SJDC to continue as deputy chair of BMA Scotland this week, said: “It’s incredibly concerning to see these stats laid out in black and white. If the views of the respondents of our survey are representative of the entire junior doctor workforce in Scotland we could be walking into a workforce catastrophe in the next two years.
“We are already desperately short-staffed – we need more doctors across the entire system from primary care through to the highest levels in secondary care – we cannot afford to lose valuable junior doctors who are the future of our senior workforce. Urgent action must be taken to make junior doctors feel valued in their workplace and want to stay in Scotland’s NHS for the majority, if not entirety, of their careers.
“I am speaking to colleagues on an almost daily basis about their concerns – exhaustion, burn-out, workload, workplace culture, and pay. They feel unappreciated and undervalued. There are many factors contributing to this feeling of discontentment among the workforce, but this year’s pay award, which is essentially a pay cut in real terms, certainly hasn’t helped matters and has led to many junior doctors re-evaluating their futures within our NHS.
“While the issue of pay is something that must be resolved, there are other things the government can do as quick fixes to make the working lives of junior doctors easier – little things like access to hot food when working long shifts out of hours, having a locker to store your belongings, ensuring we can take our breaks on time and uninterrupted, and having a system in place that ensures we get our rotas at least six weeks in advance so we can plan our non-working lives around them.
“If I can make one final plea to the Scottish Government before I stand down as chair of SJDC it’s this: act now, please. Do something before it’s too late.”
Notes to editors
The BMA is a professional association and trade union representing and negotiating on behalf of all doctors in the UK. A leading voice advocating for outstanding health care and a healthy population. An association providing members with excellent individual services and support throughout their lives.