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'Doctors on a knife-edge,' finds report

Distressed woman crying

More than four out of 10 doctors are planning to practise medicine overseas and levels of workplace stress have risen across the profession, a report finds.

A total of 42 per cent of doctors surveyed in the BMA’s 10th annual cohort report say they are planning to work abroad temporarily or permanently.

This figure comes as the number of specialty trainees reporting high or very high stress to the report increased from 29 per cent to 42 per cent.

BMA junior doctors committee chair Ellen McCourt said the findings serve to highlight the precarious position of staffing levels in the health service, and the need for politicians to consider what harm further changes to the workforce could have.

She said: ‘We have been saying for some time that morale among doctors is at an all-time low and these figures show, once again, that doctors are on a knife-edge. They are reaching their limit, and if stretched any further, they will walk.

‘Given the results of this study, it makes no sense for the Government to rush the implementation of the junior doctor contract, which will only make things worse.

‘With the NHS facing unprecedented pressure, it is critical to focus on how to assure its long-term future.  Junior doctors are central to this. If even a small number choose to vote with their feet, the future looks increasingly uncertain.’


A slice of life

Launched in 2006, the BMA’s annual cohort report examines the progress of 430 doctors in the years following their graduation, taking in a range of areas including job changes, career ambitions and experiences of working in medicine.

The latest version of the report follows a questionnaire completed in September last year, with key findings including a five percentage point rise in the numbers of respondents planning to practise medicine abroad.

The latest findings show that the total number of staff reporting high or very high stress stands at 43 per cent, compared to 34 per cent of respondents in the previous cohort survey.

As with the previous survey, the most common reported causes of stress included work-life balance responsibilities, a shortage of doctors and high levels of paperwork.

GPs had the highest levels of stress with 50 per cent reporting high or very high levels of work-related stress.

Read the cohort report

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