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After Mid Staffs: the NHS must do more to care for the health of its staff

BMJ 2013; 346 doi: (Published 07 March 2013) Cite this as: BMJ 2013;346:f1503
  1. Anonymous

An occupational health physician who worked at several NHS trusts believes that severe work pressures and poor management have not been taken seriously enough by NHS trust managers and that this has the potential to brutalise staff

I worked for several years in several NHS trusts before the problems at the Mid Staffordshire NHS Trust emerged. I was a consultant occupational physician, tasked with looking after the health and welfare of some 12 000 NHS staff. Other consultant NHS physicians I have met had similar experiences.

I came to the NHS as an outsider, having done my undergraduate training and initial specialisation in occupational medicine abroad. The first post I held in occupational medicine in the UK, while undertaking training for membership of the faculty, was in industry. I found that line managers in engineering regarded the workforce in a similar way to how they view other parts of the production process: if someone was getting worn out or damaged, then the underlying cause should be fixed to prevent it happening again. Although they were not happy to see reports on new cases of work related ill health, they saw them as just as necessary as the plant engineer’s report on machine maintenance.

When I started working in the NHS I was taken aback by …

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