MORALE among doctors in Wales is at an all-time low, while stress is at an all-time high, a Gwent GP and senior British Medical Association (BMA) representative has warned.

Increases in workload and staff shortages have combined to affect doctors' own health and wellbeing, said Dr David Bailey.

A new report for the General Medical Council (GMC) - Caring for Doctors, Caring for Patients - makes a series of recommendations for supporting doctors’ wellbeing and, in turn, patient safety.

These include the development of compassionate leadership models, to give doctors more say over the culture of their workplaces, the adoption of minimum standards of food and rest facilities, and standardisation of rota designs to take account of workload and available staff.


Dr Bailey, senior partner at Ty Bryn Surgery, Trethomas, and chairman of the BMA's Welsh council, welcomed the report, calling the above recommendations "crucial", and he wants the Welsh Government to take note too.

“Doctors in Wales have been faced with unprecedented workloads for a number of years," he said. "Coupled with serious staffing shortages, this has inevitably taken a toll on their own health and well-being.

"Morale is at an all-time low, stress at an all-time high. Unfortunately, what this creates is a cycle - if doctors burn out and the result is absenteeism, this places further pressures on the system, meaning patient care and performance will suffer.

“We welcome that the GMC report has endorsed what BMA Cymru Wales believes to be crucial recommendations - adopting minimum standards of food and rest facilities, and standardising rota designs to take account of workload and available staff.

“BMA Cymru Wales is currently working in partnership with Welsh Government and NHS Employers, to develop a Fatigue and Facilities Charter, to ensure NHS Wales is a safe and supportive place to work for doctors in training - this will be launched imminently.

“We are also calling for safe staffing levels to be enshrined in Welsh legislation, as part of the Quality and Engagement (Wales) Bill currently making its way through the Assembly. This would go some way to improving unacceptable pressures facing the workforce.

“The safety of patients depends on staff working in a safe and supportive environment. We are pleased that this report recognises that, and urge Welsh Government to take heed.”

The GMC commissioned organisational psychologist Professor Michael West and clinical psychiatrist and leader in mental health Dame Denise Coia to look at the root causes of poor wellbeing, and the solutions that can be applied in primary and secondary care.

They heard evidence from clinicians across the UK, who work in a range of disciplines.

"UK health services can be a model for the world in creating compassionate workplaces that promote doctors’ wellbeing through meeting their core work needs," said Professor West.

"We can’t simply go on the way we are, loading more responsibility onto doctors already struggling to cope. Where workloads are excessive, patient care suffers."