Trades Union Congress delegates in Brighton unanimously backed an HCSA motion demanding serious action on workplace stress within the profession after the association’s research revealed that a shocking eight in 10 senior hospital doctors are considering early retirement as a direct result of rising pressures.
HCSA general secretary Eddie Saville told the annual conference that the government was failing to take the issue seriously despite the findings revealing “a shocking legacy of fatigue, broken relationships and serious illness.”
The causes highlighted, he added, were “a workload that sees doctors routinely work beyond their contracted hours, as shrinking resources force them to take on impossible patient caseloads,” “constant restructuring and dysfunctional relationships between staff and management,” and “chronic staff shortages.”
He warned: “Make no mistake. This represents a toxic threat not just to our NHS but to the patients its dedicated workforce serves.
“It takes 19 years of training to become a hospital consultant. This is not a workforce that can be easily replaced.
“The kind of mass exodus suggested by our research demands urgent action if we are to head off a system-wide collapse.
“It does not seem to us that the government is taking the issue seriously.
“Employers and ministers suggest that things are improving. That strategies are in place to boost the well-being and health of NHS staff.
“But it is clear hospital doctors do not agree.
“In fact more than 70 per cent of hospital doctors told us that their work stress had increased over the past 12 months.
“Against a backdrop of yet another reorganisation with the stated aim of delivering seven-day services, we fear that this issue could deliver a knockout blow to the stability of our NHS.”
Urging the government and employers to act, he said: “It’s time to listen to your front-line workers. “You need to recognise the extent of this threat.”