More than 1,000 doctors ‘plan to quit NHS over Government mishandling of coronavirus pandemic’

More than 1,000 doctors have said they intend to leave the NHS due to the Government’s mishandling of the coronavirus pandemic and anger over pay, a new study has found.

In a survey conducted by Doctors’ Association UK, doctors also complained of growing stress levels within their profession and mental health worries.

Two-third of respondents said they either intended to switch to the private sector, move abroad, work as locums or take a career break within the next three years.

The Government’s treatment of the NHS during the pandemic was labelled as the main factor in the rising disillusionment amongst medics.

Speaking to The Guardian, Dr Smanatha Batt-Rawden, president of the Doctors’ Association UK, said: “NHS doctors have come out of this pandemic battered, bruised and burned out.”

She added that the number of medics who intend to leave the NHS within three years is “a shocking indictment of the Government’s failure to value our nation’s doctors”.

Dr Batt-Rawden added: “These are dedicated professionals who have put their lives on the line time and time again to keep patients in the NHS safe, and we could be about to lose them.”

In total 1,758 doctors across the UK took the DAUK online survey, which asked: “Has the pandemic and the Government’s treatment of frontline doctors during the pandemic impacted your decision to stay or leave the NHS?”

Approximately seven in ten – 69 per cent or 1,214 of respondents – said it had made them likely to leave the health service.

When asked “where do you see yourself working in the next one to three years?”, 1,143 said that would be leaving the NHS.

NHS staff across the UK are demanding an early salary increase (Kate Green/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

According to recent figures, the NHS had vacancies for 8,278 doctors, boosting concerns about the health services’ understaffing issue.

However, the most common response for wanting to leave the health service was due to a lack of sufficient pay-rise, although the Government recently announce a 2.8 per cent pay rise for doctors and consultants but excluded trainee doctors and several GPs.

Other factors include the lack of personal protective equipment (PPE) during the pandemic (65 per cent), not being able to speak out publicly (54 per cent) and the mental health toll of the pandemic (45 per cent).

In addition, some respondents felt the respect shown to NHS staff for their work looking after patients with covid-19 via 10 weeks of “clapping for carers” was at odds with what they viewed as ministers’ disdain for them, such as accusing them of having too much PPE.

Almost 900,000 public sector workers have been given an above-inflation pay rise but nurses and junior doctors were not included (Getty Images)

One doctor said: “I feel the government regard NHS workers as cannon fodder generally. Poor pay, poor conditions, inadequate PPE, flimsy promises made for political gain. After 20-plus years in the frontline, I am burned out, sick and unsupported.”

Nevertheless, the Department of Health and Social Care said it was “extremely proud” of NHS workers.

A spokesperson said: “We want all staff to be able to work flexibly and to access the practical and emotional support they need to look after their physical and mental health, and the NHS People Plan published last month demonstrates our commitment to making the NHS the best possible place to work.

“We have been working tirelessly to deliver PPE to protect people on the frontline, with over 3.1bn items delivered and more than 31bn ordered from UK-based manufacturers and international partners to provide a continuous supply.”


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