Gaps in rotas, poor access to basic facilities and an ever growing workload means junior doctors are experiencing high levels of stress in their roles.
An RCP report – Being a Junior Doctor – shows 80% of junior doctors reporting that their job ‘sometimes’ or ‘often’ causes them excessive stress.
It presents a bleak picture of the conditions junior doctors currently face and the impact this is having on the patients they care for every day.
Based on a survey of 498 junior doctors, the report finds that the current health and wellbeing of the junior doctor workforce is at a harmful and unsustainable level, with one in four stating that their job has had a serious impact on their mental health.
Over half (54%) report that their job ‘sometimes’ or ‘often’ had a negative impact on their physical health.
Junior doctors were also asked for their perspective on the factors having a negative impact on patient safety. Responses included the lack of available hospital beds (61%), poor patient access to social care (58%) and nursing rota gaps (51%).
However, many junior doctors feel valued in the work they do and much of this is down to the contact and support within the medical teams and with patients. According to our report 94% of junior doctors feel valued by their consultant and nearly all respondents (96%) feel that they are valued by the patients they treat for the quality of care they provide.
The survey also finds the working conditions for many junior doctors falls far short of what is needed – with many reporting limited access to food and water. The findings show that the majority of junior doctors (56.1%) reported going through at least one shift in the last month without eating a meal and nearly three quarters (73.7%) reported working at least one shift in the last month without drinking enough water.
The report says this is troubling given that a junior doctors’ shift may last 12 hours or more.
Prof Jane Dacre, president of the RCP said: “Yet again we have more evidence that our NHS is underfunded, under-doctored and overstretched. Junior doctors are the future of medicine and as such we all have duty to ensure that the NHS they work in is a supportive environment, one where they feel like they can learn and grow but ultimately is a place where they can provide high quality patient care.
“The findings today show that poor access to even basic facilities, gaps in rotas and the constant pressures of administration, often taking them away from treating patients, is having a stark impact on the mental and physical health of our junior doctors.
“Medicine is a brilliant profession with so many possibilities to enhance the lives of the patients we treat. We need to fund our NHS and social care services so that all staff are able to provide safe and effective care, but also have the ability to thrive.”
Other findings include 41% of junior doctors feel the burden of administrative tasks is so high that it is having a serious impact on the safety of the patients they treat.
Only three in 10 believe that they are valued by the chief executive of their hospital or trust.