The pandemic has been taking an unimaginable toll on everyone, especially our healthcare workers and doctors. In fact, a survey conducted by the British Medical Association (BMA) has found that almost 21% of doctors would like to leave the NHS and switch to another career once the pandemic was over. Around 32% of doctors are considering early retirement, while 25% are planning to take a career break.
Burnt out since the pandemic
Most respondents have told BMA that they want to leave the NHS because of the workload. Doctors have been unable to get the time they need to mentally and physically recuperate from their jobs, and have been burnt out since the beginning of the pandemic. One doctor reported to BMA:
A 'break' on shift means I try to grab 10 minutes in my office to down a cup of tea and catch up on some of the hundreds of emails I need to read before inevitably being called back out.
I've started exploring career opportunities outside of the NHS. I don't know yet if I'll leave clinical medicine, but I'm seriously considering it. If the right opportunity presents itself I'll go for it.
It's a tough thing to consider, I love the NHS but I know I can't keep this pace up indefinitely.
Tougher times ahead for the NHS
The survey had over 2,000 respondents, and the results are harrowing—especially considering that there are 4.7 million patients who are waiting for hospital treatment. NHS England has said that this is the highest the country has seen since August 2007. The number in February 2020, was just 1,613. Dr. Chaand Nagpaul, the leader of the BMA explained:
It’s deeply worrying that more and more doctors are considering leaving the NHS because of the pressures of the pandemic – talented, experienced professionals who the NHS needs more than ever to pull this country out of a once-in-a-generation health crisis.
But officials say that the government is committed to giving the NHS as much support as they need, not just during the pandemic but after as well. A spokesperson for the Department of Health and Social Care said:
There are record numbers of doctors, nurses and NHS staff - over 1.18m - and there are now more medical students in training than at any point in NHS history.
We are backing our NHS with an extra £7bn for health and care services this year, bringing our total additional COVID-19 investment to £92bn, including £1bn to support NHS recovery by tackling waiting lists.