Back to Legal Industry News

Doctors’ Poor Morale Could Put Patients at Risk, Warns General Medical Council

By Media Executive

Doctors’ Poor Morale Could Put Patients at Risk, Warns General Medical Council

A report by the General Medical Council (GMC), warns “a state of unease within the medical profession across the UK that risks affecting patients as well as doctors”.

It found that in 2015, more than 500 fewer doctors had gone on to speciality training after completing their two foundation years following graduation, although some typically use this time to take a break to improve their skills.

Eight-six per cent of doctors gave work-life balance as the reason they were planning to take a break, with 47 per cent of those citing burnout as a result of their clinical placements.

The report comes as the Royal College of Surgeons published new guidance on gaining patient consent.

Former health minister, Dr Dan Poulter, who is Conservative MP for Central Suffolk and North Ipswich, told the BBC that morale is at the ‘lowest point’ he has known in the last few years.

He said there was a “general feeling that there’s sometimes a lack of support.”

He added: “The biggest issue is the training needs of doctors are often subsumed by the need to meet increasing patient demand and need and expectation.

“We now have quite big rota gaps in a number of specialities – with people, as it were, voting with their feet due to sometimes increasing pressures of work.

“If we neglect doctors’ training then that is something that is going to manifest in difficulties with patient care.”

The GMC said this suggests pressure on junior doctors, but that the workforce issues were "complex and multi-factorial, and some are long standing".

A Department of Health spokesperson said: “The dedication and sheer hard work of our NHS doctors is absolutely crucial to delivering world-class care for patients.

“As the report makes clear, the standard of care provided by doctors working in the UK remains among the best in the world. 1.6 million more NHS operations now take place each year compared to 2010 and hundreds of thousands more people are seen in A&E within four hours.

“The government is investing £10bn to fund the NHS's own plan to transform services for the future - central to which is listening to the concerns of staff.”

The report comes as the Royal College of Surgeons published new guidance on gaining patient consent.

Following a landmark Supreme Court ruling last year, NHS trusts have been ordered to change their processes so that surgeons focus more on informing patients of their options.

Leslie Hamilton, a Royal College of Surgeons (RCS) council member, said: “We now need to sit down and tell the patient all the other options and let the patient choose and not tell them.”