NHS leaders face “a state of unease” among doctors

N0037780 Surgeons viewing a screen during an operation

By Martin Vogel

Ahead of our 10th November session on leading for compassion in the NHS, another timely news report sheds light on the difficult conditions faced by NHS staff. When I woke this morning, BBC News was leading on the annual report from the General Medical Council – the doctors’ regulator – and in particular the GMC’s view that there is “a state of unease within the medical profession across the UK that risks affecting patients as well as doctors“.

BBC News highlights findings that fewer doctors are proceeding to specialist training – a key indicator of career progression and commitment to the profession:

“582 fewer doctors had gone on to specialty training in 2015 following their two post-graduate foundation years, although a number take a break at this point to improve their skills either in the UK or abroad, or for personal reasons. Most doctors planning to take a break (86.5%) gave work-life balance as the reason – of those, 47% cited burnout resulting from their clinical placements.”

It also quotes Dr Mike Smith, chairman of the Patients Association, as saying that junior doctors are much more isolated in dealing with their unease because of the breakdown of the “medical firm” by which hospital teams used to be organised:

“They don’t have anybody to turn to – unlike when I was a junior doctor; we had a firm. We had a registrar, senior registrar, consultant and if in the middle of the night you got something you couldn’t deal with there was always somebody at the end of the phone who had more experience and if needs be would come in.”

The BBC’s health editor, Hugh Pym, describes the GMC’s intervention as “unprecedented”:

“Using words like ‘distress’, ‘state of unease’ and ‘alienation’, the regulator makes clear that the mood of doctors struggling to cope is a serious issue and one which needs the Government and employers to sit up and take notice of it.”

In our last post, we focussed on the experience of nurses. The GMC’s report highlights the challenging experience of doctors. The NHS is an institution whose staff routinely deal with life and death – a big enough ask, in itself. But the conditions in which they currently operate mean they are up against the wall. This can only have a negative impact on the care and treatment they are able to give us, the public, when we fall ill.

On 10th November, we’ll be discussing how coaching can help support a compassionate caring culture. With such systemic challenges in the NHS, is coaching anything more than a sticking plaster or can it make a material difference?

Leading for compassion
10th November 2016, 6.30pm to 8.30pm
Space in Marylebone, 10 Daventry Street, London NW1 5NX
Members £30; Non-members £35

Book with Eventbrite

Image courtesy Wellcome Images.

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