Around two-thirds of hospital doctors have experienced rota gaps in the last 12 months, a new survey has found.
The BMA quarterly survey also found that 65 per cent of hospital doctors and 48 per cent of GPs reported vacancies in their departments and practices.
Speaking at this year’s annual representative meeting in Bournemouth today, BMA council chair Mark Porter warned that workforce shortages, along with financial underinvestment, were critically affecting staff morale and patient care.
Dr Porter, who told the conference that the NHS was now effectively ‘running on fumes’, said that the Government had to stop passing the buck and engage in finding solutions to the challenges facing the health service.
He said: ‘We still have one of the best healthcare systems the world. It treats more patients than ever before, and deploys treatments of which I could only have dreamt when I qualified as a doctor.
‘But after years of underinvestment, with a growing, ageing population, and despite the extraordinary dedication of its staff, it is failing too many people, too often.’
In addition to these findings, 71 per cent of responding doctors said that they felt patients’ access to the health service had become more difficult over the past year.
Meanwhile 44 per cent of respondents described their morale as being low or very low, more than double the amount reporting high or very high morale.
The figure is a significant increase on the results for the same quarter in 2016 when 36 per cent of respondents described their morale as being either low or very low.
A total of 61 per cent of doctors taking part in the survey said their stress levels in the workplace had increased, with half saying they had felt unwell as a result of work-related stress over the past 12 months.
The survey also revealed indications suggesting that the UK’s exit from the EU was having an effect on health service workforces, with 11 per cent saying they had seen EU national colleagues leave their posts in the wake of the 2016 referendum.
14 per cent of those surveyed said they had noticed a reduction in applications from non-UK staff within their departments, since the UK’s vote to leave.
Read the survey
Read more from Tim Tonkin and follow on Twitter.