PRESS RELEASE: NHS doctors bullied to the brink, 600 medics speak out

The Doctors’ Association UK has compiled stories from 602 frontline doctors which expose a startling culture of bullying and overwork in the NHS. Some of these stories have been outlined in The Mirror today.

The stories include:

  • a pregnant doctor who fainted after being forced to stand up for 15 hours straight and being denied water. The junior doctor was subsequently shouted at in front of colleagues and patients on regaining consciousness and told it was her choice to be pregnant and that ‘no allowances would be made’.

  • a doctor who told us that a junior doctor hung themselves in a cupboard whilst on shift and was not found for 3 days as no-one had looked for them. His junior doctor colleagues were not allowed to talk about his suicide and it was all ‘hushed up’.

  • • a doctor who was denied a change of clothes into scrubs after having a miscarriage at work despite her trousers being soaked in blood.

(Additional stories can be shared on request).

In 2019, The Doctors’ Association UK (DAUK) compiled a dossier of over 1000 stories of 2 frontline doctors brutally treated by the NHS .

DAUK subsequently launched anti-bullying campaigns #NHSMeToo and Compassionate Culture. The grassroots campaigns were supported by the Health Secretary Matt Hancock who spoke of the need to develop compassionate leadership in our NHS and vowed to see that changes are made.

Despite the promises and assurances of a culture change it is evident that this has not happened. During the worst winter crisis on record DAUK was inundated with stories from doctors, yet again, all attesting that conditions on the frontline have worsened, to the point feel they have no option but to leave the NHS. With so little regard for doctors’ wellbeing it it cannot come as surprise that we currently have nearly 10,000 vacancies for doctors across the frontline.

The time has come to act. With a deepening workforce crisis the NHS cannot continue to treat its staff with so little regard.

Dr Rinesh Parmar, Chair of The Doctors’ Association UK and an anaesthetic doctor said: “These heart breaking stories from across the country show the extent of bullying and harassment that doctors face whilst working to care for patients. Heart wrenching examples of being denied access to tap water after the tragic loss of a patient just reveals how heartless and inhumane conditions can be for doctors working on the frontline.”

“It is easy therefore 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 foregone their 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.”

Dr Natalie Ashburner, The Doctors’ Association UK Wellbeing Lead and psychiatry doctor said: “It is extremely disappointing that doctors are reporting a lack of access to basic resources such as drinking water at hospitals all over the UK. The effect of these inconsiderate, short- sighted and bureaucratic decisions on both the physical and mental wellbeing of staff who already work long antisocial shifts under tremendous stress in a climate of unprecedented demand for already stretched resources should not be underestimated. NHS trusts must urgently take measures to make the mental and physical wellbeing of doctors a priority by addressing the issues we have highlighted, creating a compassionate culture and remembering that doctors are human too.”