Junior doctors overworked and let down, says report

Junior doctors overworked and let down, says report

By Jill Theobald | 19/11/2021

Junior doctors overworked and let down, says report
Photo by Jonathan Borba on Unsplash


JUNIOR doctors performing long shifts at Rotherham Hospital without a break feel “unsupported” by the hospital and their senior colleagues, according to a new report.

High patient numbers, computer problems and staff shortages are all leading to “stressful” shifts and longer hours for junior doctors in Rotherham.

The Guardian of Safe Working Report for the second quarter of 2021/22 recorded that junior doctors in general surgery had worked four times as many extra hours during that time compared with the previous quarter.

One doctor’s report said: “No breaks throughout 12.5hr shift. Handover overran”.

The report recorded that as a result of senior and junior doctors being off sick and rota gaps, a junior doctor on the “twilight” shift was left with a “huge list of jobs” which was “very stressful for all involved”.

Thirty-five doctors submitted 177 exception reports — which record events outside “normal” working procedures — amounting to more than 180 extra hours being worked.

In surgery, the number of additional hours rose from 15 in the previous quarter to 63.

There were six exception reports logged about missed breaks, and 16 for “service support” — the vast majority coming from surgery.

Dr Gerry Lynch, guardian of safe working, stated: “This is a large increase in exception reports for surgery and reflects issues with recruitment and rota gaps in the division, along with other issues outside the remit of this report which have been appropriately escalated.

“This has culminated in a Foundation Year 1 workforce which is feeling unsupported by the service and senior colleagues.”

One doctor said they had to work an extra two hours after their normal eight-and-a-half hour shift because a “hospital-wide computer system outage” meant they had to prescribe patients’ critical medications on the hospital’s Kardex paper-based system.

Dr Lynch said the hospital’s director of medical education and foundation director were instrumental in raising issues coming to their attention and available to trainees for support.

New starters to surgical positions were due to begin this month, he said, adding that the overall workload had been redistributed between on-call and ward teams in surgery.

Dr Lynch added: “In medicine, the working intensity is always high but total hours worked per junior doctor are not unsafe.”

Executive medical director, Dr Callum Gardner, said: “Our junior colleagues are actively encouraged to raise any concerns through our various reporting mechanisms so issues can be escalated appropriately.

“We have listened to their recent feedback and are working to address the issues raised.

“Alongside regular junior doctor forums, which I attend, we have fortnightly meetings which allow us to provide real time feedback to colleagues.”