Doctors and the practice of medicine in the UK and internationally face an identity crisis which requires urgent action, a BMA conference has heard.
BMA president Pali Hungin has warned that challenges such as burnout, falling recruitment and retention and the changing nature of the doctor-patient relationship all need to be confronted in coming years, at a conference last month.
Attended by leading health figures from around the world, the two-day event was part of a project launched by Professor Hungin seeking to consider the practical and philosophical challenges facing healthcare, as well an as attempt to identify solutions.
He said: ‘The aim of this meeting… is not so much to dwell on our present difficulties and problems, but to recognise them and get on to thinking about how the future might unfold for the public, the world at large and particularly so for us as doctors.’
‘We [doctors] are facing a bit of an identity crisis at the moment, and I think it’s appropriate that we should be open about this and examine it in some detail.’
Launched last year, Professor Hungin’s project has already seen a series of round-table discussions take place since the beginning of 2017, with the findings to be presented at this year’s BMA annual representative meeting in June.
Speaking at the opening of the conference, Professor Hungin said medicine in the UK and around the world faced a number of fundamental challenges that affect doctors, morale and the mental well-being of staff.
He added that increased rates of burnout – as well as foundation programme figures showing that the number of doctors proceeding directly to specialist training has fallen from 72 per cent to 50 per cent since 2011 – were significant concerns.
The BMA aims to produce a report outlining the project’s findings within the next few months.
Find out more about the project
Read more from Tim Tonkin and follow on Twitter.