Intended for healthcare professionals

Rapid response to:


Burnout in healthcare: the case for organisational change

BMJ 2019; 366 doi: (Published 30 July 2019) Cite this as: BMJ 2019;366:l4774

Rapid Response:

Re: Burnout in healthcare: the case for organisational change

This is a great article about burnout and the responses are also informative. It shows from evidence that "nature" in doctors, nurses, paramedics... is fine, its the "nurture" that is the problem. You can train the best of doctors and nurses and they will perform optimally if given the environment and support to grow. Any self respecting multi national really looks after their staff well to hold onto them and to get the best out of them. Hospitals and health services don't. The prevalence of depression and burnout in the medical profession is very high. This article shows what everyone already knows - that the best people are being traumatised by shocking work environments, overwhelming demands and lack of proper tools (resources). This is toxic.

What is needed along with the suggestions in this review is a groundswell of medical common sense and defence to call a halt to the intimidation of doctors and nurses by "the system." Call it a"Push Back" movement to gather momentum and say "enough" we will not fill crazy forms any more, we will not spend hours a day with useless paperwork, we will not be treated in a disparaging way because management or the patient or the College says so.

Sounds a bit like "Workers rights" or train drivers union stuff but the tide needs to turn seriously. Call it assertiveness for health professionals or whatever but we owe it to the coming generations to fix our working lives and especially our work environment. Doctors need to breathe easy again and enjoy their work and colleagues and coffee breaks. Doctors and young doctors and nurses are suffering and will suffer and get burnt out and depressed and we know that and ? stay quiet?

Competing interests: No competing interests

01 October 2019
Eugene Breen
Psychiatrist, Associate Clinical Professor
Mater Misericordiae University Hospital Dublin, University College Dublin
62/63 Eccles St Dublin 7