Personal Views

Doctors in distress

BMJ 1996; 312 doi: (Published 11 May 1996) Cite this as: BMJ 1996;312:1235
  1. Bob Bury

    What is wrong with us all? As a junior doctor wins damages after taking his employing authority to court—accusing them of inhuman treatment—I am prompted to retrieve from my box of cuttings a news item from the BMJ encouragingly headed “Doctors are more miserable than ever” (BMJ 1994;309:1529). This is just one in an apparently endless stream of pieces in which colleagues tell an uncomprehending world about their insupportably dreary existence. Of course, some of the complaints are justified. Junior doctors have been working longer hours than is sensible and they do spend a lot of their time carrying out tasks which could easily be delegated to others. But although something is being done about that, still the whingeing goes on. And it is not just the juniors. Every week we read the result of yet another survey claiming to illustrate the unprecedented depths now being plumbed by consultants' morale as they struggle to come to terms with the “reformed” NHS.

    But let us start with the juniors. The BMJ report was fairly typical in the reasons it gave for their dissatisfaction. The young doctors “resented being used as workhorses and dogsbodies”; they want “to be treated as professionals, but they feel that they are like ants at the bottom of the heap.” I have to be careful here. I have …

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