‘Exhausted’ NHS doctors feel compelled to work extra shifts during Covid response - survey finds

A new survey by the British Medical Association has found nearly a third of doctors surveyed who had worked overtime, where not paid

Doctors across the UK have worked overtime in order to support the Covid 19 relief efforts (Picture: Getty Images)

A health chief has warned that NHS workers are experiencing “unacceptable levels of exhaustion”, following a survey carried out by the British Medical Association (BMA).

The survey revealed that nearly 30 percent of overtime shifts were unpaid, with 58 percent of those surveyed having taken part in overtime as a result of Covid 19.

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Of the 5,500 doctors who responded to the survey, 44 percent also revealed that they felt pressured by their employer to work additional hours.

Dr Chaand Nagpaul, BMA council chairman, said “Governments should be doing all they can to ensure staff have an opportunity to rest and reset – no-one should feel pressured to take the NHS backlogs on a goodwill basis.”

More than a third (36%) said they had skipped taking full breaks or taken them on rare occasions and nearly 60% reported higher than normal levels of fatigue or exhaustion.

Dr Nagpaul said: “To learn that an already depleted and now exhausted workforce feels forced into doing more and more hours, with many reporting higher levels of fatigue than ever, is extremely worrying.

“It is putting them at risk and their patients. Working ‘flat out’ without a change to rest and recuperate is simply unsustainable and unsafe.

“Far too many colleagues across the NHS are experiencing unacceptable levels of exhaustion while being pressured to work extra shifts,” he added: “this needs to be addressed as a matter of urgency.”

The findings reflected figures revealed in July 2020 from the Royal College of Nursing, when a third of nursing staff in all sectors reported they were working longer hours.

RCN acting chief executive and general secretary Pat Cullen said: “Exhausted health and care staff, without whom we would not have turned the tide of the pandemic, must be supported to recover.

“We cannot return to the understaffed wards, care homes and clinics from before the pandemic. Investment in staffing and pay is about both patient safety and the health of our workers.

“After this experience, nursing staff expect decisive action and investment to guarantee there are enough highly skilled healthcare workers to meet our country’s needs now and in the future.

“That means leaders must take steps to retain the nursing staff we have, as well as to increase entry into the profession.”