Dedicated to caring for the sick and vulnerable, junior doctors should expect to be supported and valued as they carry out their vital work. But hundreds have revealed they are subjected to bullying and harassment at overstretched hospitals that have been plunged into a staffing crisis by a decade of savage Tory health cuts.
The investigation has uncovered harrowing stories of young medics being denied drinking water during gruelling shifts, working for 15 hours on their feet non-stop and of uncaring managers tearing into them for breaking down in tears over the deaths of patients. One was even accused of “stealing” surgical scrubs she took to wear after suffering a miscarriage at work. The distraught woman finished her shift wearing blood-soaked trousers, instead of going home to rest.
Doctors are now quitting in their droves, leaving those left struggling to cope with a growing workload. Our probe reveals the reality of working for an NHS which has been subject to a record funding squeeze and is 8,000 medics short.
Health chiefs vowed to investigate the Mirror’s evidence from 602 testimonials submitted to grass roots lobbying group The Doctors Association UK.
Chairman Dr Rinesh Parmar said: “These heartbreaking stories from across the country show the extent of bullying and harassment that frontline doctors face whilst working to care for patients. Heartbreaking examples of being denied access to water after the tragic loss of a patient reveals how heartless and inhumane conditions can be.
“It is easy to see why the goodwill that the NHS relies upon has truly run dry. Doctors have spoken in their droves of being denied access to drinks, being accused of theft for eating a biscuit even though they’ve forgone breaks and this may be the only thing they eat or drink all day.
“A learned helplessness cannot be allowed to develop, it is vital that our doctors, the very backbone of our NHS are respected and looked after so that they’re at their very best when caring for patients.”
Doctors Association UK wellbeing lead Dr Natalie Ashburner added: “It is extremely disappointing that doctors are reporting a lack of access to basic resources such as water at hospitals. “The effect of these inconsiderate, short-sighted decisions on the physical and mental wellbeing of staff who work long, anti-social shifts under tremendous stress in a climate of unprecedented demand for already stretched resources should not be underestimated.
“The NHS is already haemorrhaging doctors. Trusts must urgently take measures to make the mental and physical wellbeing of doctors a priority, creating a compassionate culture and remembering doctors are human too.” A recent poll found almost a third of doctors may be suffering from burnout, stress and “compassion fatigue”.
The NHS has some of the fewest doctors in proportion to the population compared to other developed nations. NHS funding increases have been at a record low of 1%, compared to a 4% historical average.
The Department of Health and Social Care said of our investigation: “These accounts are deeply distressing. This type of behaviour has no place in our NHS and nobody should have to face bullying or harassment in the workplace. “We take these kinds of reports very seriously and we’re committed to making the NHS a better place to work.”
Excerpt from the Daily Mirror article by Martin Bagot, read the full article here: https://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/harrowing-stories-burned-out-nhs-21487129