Sunday, July 25, 2021
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Doctors must be allowed to rest to keep patients safe, BMA warns


Doctors who have been on the frontlines in the battle against Covid-19 must be allowed to rest to avoid risks to patient safety, the British Medical Association has warned.

The pandemic has left the health service with an “overstretched and exhausted workforce” that is “burnt out, disillusioned, and even considering leaving the NHS” because of the intense pressures and stress of the past year, according to a new BMA report.

The union, which represents doctors and medical students in the UK, said there have also been three million fewer elective procedures in England than expected since April 2020 and 159,0000 fewer in Scotland.

It means the number of patients waiting more than a year for treatment across the country has risen significantly.

Budget 2021 / PA Wire

Dr Chaand Nagpaul, BMA council chairman, said: “It’s clear that the backlog has to be reduced, but forcing doctors to just ‘get back to normal’ without respite and support is not the way forward and endangers patient safety and staffing ratios now and in the longer run.”

He added asking too much of doctors too soon could have a detrimental impact on patient safety and “potentially increase already lengthy waiting times – something both patients and doctors desperately want to avoid”.

The BMA report said the NHS needed a “strong and healthy workforce” but was being held back by patient demand outstripping staffing levels, tens of thousands of clinical and non-clinical vacancies in hospitals and a shortage of GPs.

The report said: “An overstretched and exhausted workforce must now be given time to rest and recuperate as they meet the challenges ahead.

“If staff are being pushed too hard to restore routine care in an unrealistic timeframe and without suitable resources , the likelihood is that we will see a workforce squeeze due to a combination of increasingly high staff absence rates and staff reducing their hours or leaving the workforce altogether.

“This would make it harder for health services to get back on track and provide timely and safe care to patients who need it.”

Royal Alexandra Hospital, Paisley / PA Wire


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