NHS dangerously understaffed with junior doctors

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tired_doctor3 Lack of staffing is forcing junior doctors to work excessive hours, affecting the safety of NHS hospital care, according to a BMA survey.

Some junior doctors are working up to 100 hours a week, with overtime unrecorded and unpaid, to meet patient needs.

The survey report follows the Keogh Report, which highlighted the shortage of nurses as the main cause of avoidable deaths in 14 hospital trusts.

The BMA analysed feedback from over 1,600 junior doctors and final-year medical students on problems in their working lives.

Many expressed concern that fatigue was affecting the safety of their decisions and actions.

One junior doctor in England commented: “I should not have to work 12-day stretches, or 12-hour shifts; it’s not safe and means no quality of life outside work.”

Another explained that NHS employers take advantage of doctors’ sense of responsibility: “The fact is we feel obligated to stay to finish our jobs so that patient care doesn’t suffer and we also don’t want to ‘dump’ jobs onto our colleagues working the evening and night shifts.”

Another recurrent issue was the casualisation of working conditions, including the unpredictability of rotas and lack of time to recuperate.

Dr Ben Molyneux, Chair of the BMA’s Junior Doctors Committee, said: “The feedback highlights that despite working time regulations, juniors are still working long shifts night after night as well as extra, unrecorded hours.

“Two weeks before the annual August changeover of jobs, thousands of junior doctors still don’t know basic details such as what [shifts] they will be working or how much they will be paid. Some don’t even know where they will be working in a fortnight.”