The BMA is set to explore how widespread burnout is among doctors and medical students following a Pulse investigation that found that almost half of GPs were at high risk of burning out.
A motion proposed at the BMA’s Annual Representatives Meeting in Edinburgh today was passed, calling on the BMA to identify the size of the problem, assess the factors leading to burnout and ensure comprehensive guidance is produced to support suffering doctors.
This follows on from Pulse’s investigation that found that 43% of GPs are classified as being at a very high risk of developing burnout, and the majority do not feel they are achieving much in their role. The GPC said that these results should warrant a parliamentary debate.
The BMA will also work with the Medical Schools Council to ensure that effective pastoral support is available in every medical school.
Dr Sangeetha Sornalingam, a GP registrar in Brighton, said that the work currently being done to tackle burnout, especially among junior doctors, is not enough.
She said: ‘It’s those earlier in their careers that are at higher risk…If we recognise over 80% of doctors will experience burnout, why are we not equipping doctors with the skills to deal with it? Simply saying ‘maintain a work-life balance’ is not enough.’
However, BMA council member Dr Keith Brent, who is a consultant, opposed the motion, because he said this work was already going on.
Data on burnout is already available, he said, so commissioning a new review would go ‘backwards’ and divert time and money away from the work the BMA is already carrying out to tackle burnout.
He said: ‘There’s a huge amount of data already on all the things this motion asks us to collect data on. It asks us to re-direct our resources back to what we already have, rather than continually developing the things we are already doing, to support doctors and medical students dealing with stress.’
‘We’re already doing this, we’re already doing more than this and we shouldn’t direct resources back again.’
Motion in full
Motion to be proposed by the Junior Members Forum: That this Meeting recognises the increasing potential for stress and burnout in doctors and medical students, and that those affected do not always come forward to ask for help. It therefore calls upon the BMA to:
i.identify how widespread stress and burnout is among doctors and medical students;
ii.undertake an assessment of factors leading to stress and burnout in doctors and medical students;
iii.ensure that comprehensive guidance is produced to help recognise and provide support to doctors and medical students affected;
iv.work with the Medical Schools Council to ensure that effective pastoral support is available in every medical school.