A new study by The University of Manchester found that 37% of GPs intended to quit direct patient care, even before the COVID-19 pandemic hit
On 8 June, a Health and Social Committee report found that burnout was widespread in the NHS – especially after two waves of virus-related hospitalisations and deaths.
The Nuffield Trust reported that NHS staff absence rates in April 2020 were the highest ever recorded. Health bodies are reporting that there will be a mental health shadow pandemic, for all frontline workers who struggled with burnout and exposure to constant situations of death.
In the US, a survey of critical care nurses found that 47% were at risk of experiencing PTSD after the events of 2020.
The report said that: “Burnout is a widespread reality in today’s NHS and has negative consequences for the mental health of individual staff, impacting on their colleagues and the patients and service users they care for. There are many causes of burnout, but chronic excessive workload is a key driver and must be tackled as a priority.
“This will not happen until the service has the right number of people, with the right mix of skills across both the NHS and care system.”
So, how did doctors feel about their jobs before the pandemic?
Now, research from Manchester scientists finds that 37% of GPs wanted to quit direct patient care in the next five years – before the pandemic became a reality. When the team looked at GPs over the age of 50, the amount of people who wanted to quit jumped to 63%.
When looking at younger GPs (under the age of 50), the team found that 11% were planning to leave. Despite the increased level of doctors who want to leave, the team found that over half (59%) said that they were satisfied with their job overall.
‘Small increase in job satisfaction’, but more doctors plan to leave
Professor Kath Checkland, who led the study, commented: “It is encouraging to see that there was a small increase in job satisfaction between 2017 and 2019, but the high levels of GPs planning to leave patient care even before the pandemic hit is very concerning.
“We are now carrying out a further round of the survey to try to capture changes in job satisfaction driven by the pandemic.”