November 28 2019
According to new research published this week in the journal BMJ Open, 1 in 3 UK doctors working in obstetrics and gynaecology may suffer from workplace burnout.
Burnout is a condition triggered by long-term stress and overload at work, and is associated with emotional exhaustion, lack of empathy and connection with others, and feeling a lack of personal accomplishment. The study found 36% of doctors met the criteria for burnout and were more likely to report anxiety, irritability and anger.
“We found the results of this survey very worrying. The levels of burnout were high, particularly amongst younger doctors. This has serious implications for patients, as we know burnout reduces patient satisfaction, safety and standards of care. These results point to an environment in UK hospitals that makes staff unwell and less able to carry out their jobs safely.”
Professor Tom Bourne, lead author of the research from Imperial University, London
The study of over 3000 obstetricians and gynaecologists also showed that stressed doctors were more likely to show signs of ‘defensive’ practice. This means a doctor may avoid difficult cases or procedures, over prescribe medications, or carry out more investigations or treatments than necessary, for fear of missing a diagnosis or making a mistake.
“We know that some women who experience pregnancy complications, and baby loss, have unsatisfactory hospital experiences, often complaining of a lack of care or empathy alongside variable outcomes. This study highlights the pressure doctors within our maternity system are under and why we urgently need to transform and improve maternity care in the UK.”
Jane Brewin, Chief Executive, Tommy’s
Professor Tom Bourne, study author and consultant gynaecologist suggests that the solutions lie in improving the environment doctors work in. He highlights that such solutions relate to reducing workload, rebuilding supportive teams, compassionate leadership, improving the values and culture of hospitals, and giving doctors more autonomy and fairness.
“This important study provides compelling evidence that there is an urgent need to improve workplace environment for doctors. We know burnout is associated with worst outcomes for patients, as well as lack of empathy and rapport. It is vital the issue of burnout is addressed so we can sustainably deliver the very best care for our patients”
Dr. Alison Wright, vice president of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists
A recently published article, co-authored by Professor Catherine Williamson from Tommy’s Research Centre at King’s College London, suggests that certain pregnancy complications can indicate future health issues for women.
Tommy’s has received a grant from the UK Government’s Department for Health and Social Care to support the costs of its PregnancyHub information and support services throughout the summer, due to rising demand in the wake of coronavirus.
Although recruitment to some clinical trials had to be paused when coronavirus hit the UK, scientists at Tommy’s Research Centres across the UK are still hard at work, supporting women and families in our specialist clinics and sharing their latest studies with academic journals.
The day before Mother’s Day, and two days before the UK officially went into coronavirus lockdown, Zara Dawson found out she was having a miscarriage. Her third consecutive miscarriage in less than a year, and fourth consecutive loss, after losing her second son Jesse in 2018 to termination for medical reasons.