Health Service Focus

15.11.19

Doctor wellbeing solutions could make UK a ‘model for the world’

A report for the General Medical Council (GMC) has found that existing good practice on supporting doctors’ wellbeing and patient safety should be applied more widely.

Professor Michael West and Dame Denise Coia were asked to carry out a UK-wide review in 2018 into the poor wellbeing faced by medical students and doctors.

The GMC commissioned report, Caring for doctors, Caring for patients, has found a need to tackle issues within healthcare staff dealing with higher workloads and whose own health is having an impact on patient care.

Root causes of poor wellbeing in both primary and secondary care were examined and solutions have been identified.

According to research, many individual employers and clinical teams are already benefitting from local solutions designed to support the health and wellbeing of doctors.

The GMC report claims that if these measures were consistently applied across the nation, the UK could be a ‘model for the world’ in supporting doctors core work needs.

Recommendations to improve the situation include giving doctors more say over workplace culture, implementing minimum standards of food and rest facilities and better rotas that consider workload and available staff.

Better workload management and team-working were among other suggestions that the GMC has accepted and is committed to working on introducing with other leaders.

Professor West said:

"UK health services can be a model for the world in creating compassionate workplaces that promote doctors’ wellbeing through meeting their core work needs.

"We can’t simply go on the way we are, loading more responsibility onto doctors already struggling to cope. Where workloads are excessive, patient care suffers.

"We heard some astonishing stories, of doctors being denied leave for a relative’s funeral and sleeping in their car, too exhausted to drive home from a shift.

"But we also saw examples of good practice and compassionate leadership; places where staff engagement works well, and ideas are listened to and acted on. It’s these that should be shared and replicated more widely."

The research found that doctors, and all healthcare workers, should have an ‘ABC of core needs' to remain motivated and well whilst working.

  • Autonomy and control over work lives and to act consistently with work and life values.
  • Belonging and being connected to, cared for and caring of others in the workplace, and to feel valued, respected and supported.
  • Competence and experiencing effectiveness and deliver valued outcomes, such as high-quality care.

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