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Burnout threat prompts staffing level rethink

The level of stress and burnout among doctors and medical students needs to be assessed, the BMA annual representative meeting has said.

Keith Brent ARM 2013The ARM in Edinburgh agreed there was increasing potential for medical professionals to experience such health issues.

Those affected did not always come forward for help, the meeting heard.

Doctors and medical students also called on the BMA to lobby for minimum levels of staffing to address workload pressures.

The meeting urged the BMA to help tackle such problems by assessing the factors that lead to stress and burnout among doctors and medical students.

Patient safety

Northampton GP trainee Jamie Green said: ‘Stress and burnout can affect us all even if we do not realise it at first … but the impact of doctor burnout can be so much more severe.’

Dr Green added that such stress could potentially put patients at risk.

The meeting also called for the BMA to work with the Medical Schools Council to ensure effective pastoral support was available in every medical school.

Brighton GP trainee Sangeetha Sornalingam said: ‘Stress and burnout is causing doctors to leave the profession or work abroad … It’s something that needs to be taken seriously.’

Responding to calls to assess the level of stress and burnout in the profession, East Sussex consultant paediatrician Keith Brent (pictured above) said a huge amount of data was already available in this area and that the BMA continued to support doctors and students in such circumstances.

Guidance agreement

The meeting decided that comprehensive guidance was needed to help recognise and provide support to affected doctors and students.

BMA council chair Mark Porter said although there was already the BMA counselling service and support from the Doctors for Doctors unit, it would be useful to check all the association’s guidance was up to date and appropriate.

The meeting also expressed concern about a report by the Royal College of Physicians of London. Hospital Workforce: Fit for the Future?, published earlier this year, found 37 per cent of trainees described the workload of the medical registrar as unmanageable.

Attendees at the ARM said the BMA should ensure the implementation of minimum staffing levels in the NHS as recommended by the public inquiry report into the failings at Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust.

The association should work with relevant bodies to devise an evidence-based approach to developing appropriate minimum medical staffing levels for different services, the ARM said.