Medicopolitical Digest

Survey shows low morale in defence medical servicesJunior doctors criticise poor food and accommodationBad habits hit the Health of the Nation targetsA GP salaried service is one optionJunior doctors criticise phasing of pay awardBMA wants no discrimination on grounds of sexual discriminationScottish community care is underresourcedThe BMA will look into needs of prison doctors

BMJ 1997; 314 doi: (Published 05 April 1997) Cite this as: BMJ 1997;314:1051

Survey shows low morale in defence medical services

A BMA survey among doctors in the armed forces shows the anger that many feel about recent changes in the services, their lack of confidence in future career prospects, and an unprecedented low morale. The respondents said that they could not remember a time when they had been under such stress.

Over 750 doctors responded to the survey. Over 90% thought that career prospects in the services were deteriorating; more than one in six doctors with over 16 years' service were planning to retire before the age of 50; and only half of those questioned said that they would recommend a cadetship and a short service commission to a medical student.

The survey was anonymous. One doctor said, “Today the biggest source of distress is that the reorganised defence medical service is not capable of meeting its operational requirements, far less provide high quality medical care to service personnel in peace time.” Another doctor commented, “I intend to leave the service as soon as I can if conditions do not improve soon.”

The chairman of the BMA's armed forces committee, Dr John Blair, said, “The results of our survey bear out everything the House of Commons defence committee said in its recent report. We are distressed by the opinions which have been expressed, and urge the government to address these serious problems. The BMA is anxious to support in every way those officers serving in the defence medical services in whatever branch and in particular those charged with the onerous task of leading the services at this difficult time.”

Junior doctors criticise poor food and accommodation

Junior hospital doctors have called for an independent inspectorate to monitor the standards of food and accommodation provided for those who are on call or resident.

The 1991 new deal on junior doctors' hours recommended minimum standards–for example, on call rooms …

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