Intended for healthcare professionals


The future of doctors’ messes

BMJ 2019; 364 doi: (Published 07 January 2019) Cite this as: BMJ 2019;364:k5367
  1. Abi Rimmer, BMJ Careers deputy editor
  1. The BMJ, London, UK
  1. arimmer{at}

Juniors’ hours are restricted and socialising and networking has moved online, yet a private space for doctors to rest is still a vital resource for both them and their patients, finds Abi Rimmer

In July this year Danielle Eddy and Sarah Arthur, both ST3 trainees in paediatrics, used one of their study days to work on their hospital’s mess. The room, located a short distance away from the wards at Bristol Royal Hospital for Children, hadn’t been updated for a decade and was looking slightly worse for wear.

Eddy and Arthur are clearly passionate about the space: it took 15 hours to clean, with more work the following morning to complete the renovation. As former mess presidents— responsible for the space and related social activities for junior doctors—they are clear about its value.

“The reason we worked on making the space nice was because if a space is cluttered you don’t want to rest in it, you don’t want to be in it, and it doesn’t clear your mind,” says Arthur.

“We wanted a space where people could breathe and then restart. Decision making is paramount to what we do. If you can’t make a decision about whether you want a cup of tea or what you want to eat then how are you going to make clear clinical decisions?”

Eddy agrees, “We are at work constantly, but we didn’t feel like we had a space to relax in, a space that was nice to be in, that was clean and tidy. You’d sit on the sofas and think, ‘urgh.’ We got fed up with that.”

Lots of hospitals have staff rooms open to all clinical staff, so it’s easy to see why some people will question why the doctors’ mess, a room dedicated to one staff group, still exists. …

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