The British Medical Association (BMA) has published survey results (Saturday, 4 February) revealing seven in 10 junior doctors in England have gone to work despite not being well enough to perform their duties.
The investigation found that 81 per cent of junior doctors in England feel their health and wellbeing has either remained the same or has deteriorated since December 2021.
It also highlighted issues contributing to poor wellbeing, with more than half (58 per cent) not having access to hot food catering facilities at work.
Naeem Nazem, head of medical division at MDDUS, said: “These findings paint a bleak picture of the current experience of junior doctors.
“Last year, we surveyed our doctor members aged between 25 and 34 and found that three in four (77 per cent) had experienced burnout, with 39 per cent saying lack of access to good food at work was a key contributing factor.
“When asked what mood they felt most frequently at work, ‘tired and anxious’ were the most common answers, with two-thirds (66 per cent) telling us they fear patient safety is at risk when working while hungry and tired.
“Stress levels in the UK healthcare workforce have reached an almost unsustainable point, and doctors are struggling.
“A tired doctor is a doctor with increased risk who is more likely to make mistakes – ultimately, patients will suffer. Access to good food and rest facilities should be a basic prerequisite for doctors going to work.
“It is clear that the bland reassurances from the centre are not having an impact on doctors’ experience on the ground.”
A junior doctor in London* said: “Being on long nightshifts as a young registrar feels as stressful on your body as smoking a packet of cigarettes – and being hungry is a part of that stress.
“Hunger can affect a doctor’s decision-making. But when being so hungry makes you less compassionate towards your patients, that is a substantial shift in your entire practice of medicine.
“Having access to food and dedicated rest facilities, rather than scavenging for an empty ward to put our feet up in for a few minutes, makes a massive difference to the quality of care I can give.”
The Medical and Dental Defence Union of Scotland (MDDUS) is a mutual organisation that protects the professional interests of more than 56,000 doctors and dentists across the United Kingdom, offering access to indemnity, support and legal advice.
For further information, please contact Caroline English, communications manager, on email@example.com or 07741 237856.
*The comment quoted is from an MDDUS member who responded to our survey in September 2022.
This page was correct at the time of publication. Any guidance is intended as general guidance for members only. If you are a member and need specific advice relating to your own circumstances, please contact one of our advisers.