Doctor burnout rate findings show need for employers to protect mental health of staff

Yesterday, our partner brand, The Medical Negligence Experts, wrote about the results of a survey published by The British Medical Journal (BMJ).

The survey, the largest published study of its kind according to The BMJ, features responses from 1,651 doctors and shows that 31% of the doctors surveyed have high levels of burnout with the same number also having compassion fatigue. Furthermore, a quarter of the doctors surveyed said they were experiencing a significant amount of stress. Perhaps unsurprisingly, A&E doctors were considerably more burnt-out and stressed than doctors in other medical areas.

Given we have recently written about the rise of occupational stress and the increasing amount of sick leave Britain’s workers are taking due to stress, anxiety and depression caused by their work, what particularly piqued our interest was that, in its report of the BMJ survey, The Guardian also highlighted a separate survey conducted by researchers at The University of Liverpool. This survey found that almost one in five doctors who deliver babies have post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) from witnessing distressing events in their work, with two-thirds of the 1,095 UK obstetricians and gynaecologists surveyed saying they had encountered traumatic situations during labour and birth. In particular, the University’s researchers found that PTSD was leading to staffing problems on maternity units because doctors go on sick leave.

What employers need to do

All employers, whether it is the NHS, a private healthcare provider or employers in other sectors, have a duty of care to protect both the physical and mental well-being of its employees. This responsibility is enshrined in law – The Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 and its resulting regulatory updates – and all employers have to adhere to it. Ignorance of the law is not an excuse.

It is vital then that employers in sectors where the staff can be particularly susceptible to such things as stress, burnout and compassion fatigue, such as all four branches of the emergency services and public-facing roles in the civil services, keep an eye on the mental well-being of its employees and help them to put strategies in place to deal with the pressures of their roles.

It is heartening then that many NHS trusts have responded to stress and burnout among staff by taking steps such as offering yoga, pilates and physiotherapy sessions and encouraging staff to take regular breaks.

Clearly, more needs to be done though given that stress levels among doctors are now at their highest-ever levels, according to The BMJ’s survey findings.

How we can help

At The Compensation Experts, we work with specialist solicitors who have a lot of experience making successful compensation claims against employers who have not done everything reasonably possible to prevent their staff from succumbing to burnout and mental health issues.

This means we and the legal firms we work with are well-placed to help you get the maximum amount of compensation you are entitled to. After your initial free, no-obligation consultation with our advisors about the aspects of your role that have caused you to develop issues with your mental health, we will match you with the firm who best suits the circumstances of your potential claim.

If you have had to take sick leave from work due to mental health issues and feel this was because of the working environment or certain demands specific to your role that your employer has not done enough to help you combat the effects of, you may be entitled to compensation. To find out if you may have a claim, do not hesitate to get in touch with The Compensation Experts via the contact form on our website or by calling 0161 413 8765.