Junior doctors: how bullying is leaving many with no choice but to quit

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Junior doctors play a crucial role within the NHS. Their hours are long, their work is demanding and their environment is stressful. On top of this, many claim to be subjected to bullying and harassment whilst at work. It’s no wonder many are pushed to breaking point, feeling they have no other choice but to leave.

An investigation that involved hearing from 602 junior doctors found that many had experienced bullying and harassment at work.

Dr Louis Lewis says that he had been working for eight hours without a break. He and the foundation doctor working had 18 patients to see. One woman had just died in resus. When he went to get a glass of water from the water cooler he was told off. He was informed that drinking in front of patients would give the impression he wasn’t working hard enough and therefore he had to wait until his break to drink water.

Another doctor stated that the first time he did CPR, it was on a young woman, who in a rare situation was conscious throughout. They had to break the news to her that she wasn’t going to survive. With the staff room closed, the doctor walked into a kitchen, overwhelmed with emotion, to splash some water on his face. When seen crying by his manager, he was accused of stealing from that kitchen. He was then told to rethink his career if he wasn’t tough enough. This junior doctor left his career not long after that.

These are just two accounts of what life can be like for junior doctors working for the NHS. Many are too scared to raise concerns, as a culture of fear and intimidation has left many worried of the consequences that may be faced if they were to speak up.

A recent survey found that almost a third of doctors may suffer from burnout, stress and ‘compassion fatigue.’

Out of 29 OECD nations, Britain has the sixth lowest number of medics per 1000 people, with 2.82 for every 1000.

Michele Benjamin, a chartered legal executive in the medical negligence team at Ashtons Legal, comments: “It’s sad to think that we leave ourselves in the hands of doctors who are facing overwhelming pressures and difficulties on a daily basis. It’s astonishing to think that many doctors are not able to care of their own health and wellbeing before dealing with their ill patients. Doctors should not be experiencing this improper treatment and hospital bosses must ensure that staff are taking adequate breaks and are well fed and hydrated. The failure of not being able to do these simple things could seriously jeopardise patient safety and worsen the NHS staffing crisis.”

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