Around 85% of young hospital doctors run the risk of burning out according to an authoritative new survey.
The Royal College of Anaesthetists (RCoA) found that six out of seven junior doctors within the healthcare system are frequently going without food or drink during shifts in what is becoming a hugely pressurised NHS environment.
More than 2,300 trainee anaesthetists responded to the survey, with those who acquired the data considering the results to be shocking.
In response to the survey, many anaesthetists indicated that pressures at work were causing an undue burden of expectations.
To put this into perspective, 62% said they had gone through a shift in the last month without a meal, 75% said they were working without hydrating themselves and 28% said they had stayed at work more than two hours after their shift to ensure someone was properly taking over and it was safe for them to go.
President of the RCoA, Dr Liam Brennan, was surprised by the hugely negative tone of the results.
“The results showed that 85% of trainees are at risk of burning out. That’s shocking, I didn’t expect it to be that high. We are not talking about people who have done this for years. These are people who are at the early stage of their careers and that makes me really anxious for the future. The comments are clear that this is about the system these young doctors have to live and work with. It should be a real wake-up call for the whole care system.”
The swiftness of response also indicated the level of concern, with over 1,000 people providing answers to the survey within 48 hours.
And the results correlated with a previous study conducted by the Royal College of Physicians, which found that 80% of junior doctors regularly experience excessive stress due to work.
There is growing evidence that healthcare professionals faced mental difficulties because of the level of pressure that they routinely face.
Brennan provided an example from his own working life to illustrate the existing NHS climate.
“There was a trainee in my own practice area driving home after a night shift, who died in a crash. In many places, there is nowhere for them to sleep for an hour if they feel exhausted after a night shift before travelling home. It’s things like that, which could improve the welfare of young doctors and give them more security”.
While there are no easy answers to these problems, it is suggested that extending the rotation period of trainees in hospitals could have some impact.
This would enable them to build stronger relationships with medical teams within organisations.