A new survey released on 16th November 2017, conducted amongst senior hospital doctors, GPs, trainees and charity supporters by the Royal Medical Benevolent Fund (RMBF), finds that an alarming two-thirds (67%) would now not recommend medicine as a career to their children. This news comes despite the fact that traditionally it has been a family career throughout generations.
The results tie in with the launch of a new RMBF campaign, Together for Doctors, which aims to highlight the need to offer vital support to medical professionals, who are working under increasing pressure. Whilst the majority of doctors said that they would still study medicine given their time again (62%), 92% think that working conditions in UK hospitals have deteriorated in the past decade, and 93% are concerned by the number of doctors choosing to leave the profession.
Worryingly, 92% of respondents think that current issues within the NHS are having a detrimental effect on recruitment, and the vast majority (93%) think hospital doctors are forced into uncomfortable decisions due to current pressures in the NHS, such as discharging patients early to free up beds.
The Together for Doctors campaign urges any doctor in difficulty to reach out. Every year, the RMBF supports hundreds of doctors and their families who are struggling with financial concerns, ill health or addiction. The charity also has a free downloadable online guide for professionals called The Vital Signs. Authored by Dr Richard Stevens, a coach with Thames Valley Professional Support Unit, the guide highlights key pressure trigger points for doctors, and signposts organisations and support networks for those in need of help and advice.
- The survey did however find that there are key environmental factors which could significantly improve a hospital doctor’s working day. For example, 75% of those surveyed felt that doctors would significantly benefit from additional administration support.
Respondents also rated the following as making a significant difference:
- better rostering (73%)
- access to communal staff room/relaxing area (71%)
- easier access to parking facilities (70%)
- improved catering facilities available 24/7 (68%)
- Improved childcare facilities (59%)
The survey also found that amongst doctors there is still a stigma around asking for help and support. Whilst over half (56%) of those surveyed think that doctors’ ‘personality type’ makes them particularly resilient when working under increasing pressure, three-quarters (75%) think there is a lack of sympathy within the medical profession for doctors who seek help for stress and mental health issues. This could be explained by a perceived ‘bravado culture’ amongst doctors, with 93% of those surveyed thinking that doctors place value on one another’s ability to work under pressure and cope with long hours without complaint.
The charity, which relies solely on voluntary donations, is also hoping that the campaign will encourage doctors to fundraise for the charity and support their colleagues by organising a ‘hospital hopping’ fundraising walk or teaming up for a ‘wear green & purple’ day at work.
Steve Crone, RMBF’s Chief Executive, said: “Doctors work tirelessly to support us all in our times of need. Yet many feel unable to ask for help when things aren’t going well for them, either personally or professionally. The Royal Medical Benevolent Fund is here to offer confidential support and advice, so I really would urge anyone who needs help to come forward.
“The money the charity raises supports doctors and their families, and often comes from fellow doctors and their families. It helps a family rebuild their lives after a loved one’s accident, or helps to retrain a doctor after a long gap for cancer treatment. It could help a talented young medical student facing hardship to get through their final year and pass their exams. So why not help us to fundraise by visiting www.rmbf.org/fundraising or texting “RMBF17 £5” to 70070 to donate.”