Addressing staff burnout

Burnout is caused by chronic stress in the work environment. Health care staff are particularly vulnerable because of their exposure to risk factors such as emotional interactions, exhausting shift patterns, and a lack of control over the demands placed upon them.  The recent winter pressures have created the “perfect storm for burnout”. 


There is strong evidence that burnout has an adverse effect on quality of care, patient safety and patient satisfaction.


  • Staff experiencing burnout feel fatigued and unable to face the demands of their job, or able to make a meaningful contribution.
  • Burnout reduces productivity and performance
  • Staff disengage – high levels of burnout are linked to more staff leaving their job, or walking away from their profession altogether.
  • Burnout is also detrimental to staff wellbeing, and linked to higher levels of relationship breakdown and suicide.

The Mayo Clinic has developed a wide range of organisational strategies to promote clinical staff engagement and reduce burnout. They argue that many of these interventions are relatively inexpensive and can have a large impact. They include:

  1. Acknowledge and assess the problem. Regularly measure the wellbeing of staff and demonstrate that the organisation is trying to reduce burnout.
  2. Harness the power of leadership. Develop and support clinical leaders. The Mayo Clinic found that a 1% increase in senior doctors’ leadership score brought a 3% reduction in how likely those reporting to them would be to suffer burnout.
  3. Cultivate social connections and peer support. Invest in areas where staff can meet and relax.
  4. Develop targeted interventions for specific clinical areas.
  5. Align values and strengthen culture. Work to ensure shared values across the organisation, and use these for decision-making as well as recruitment.
  6. Provide resources to promote personal resilience and self-care.
  7. Flexible working patterns that support a better work-life balance.

Full post at the Nuffield Trust blog 


Heavy workloads still an issue for many doctors in training, GMC survey shows

Over half of all doctors in training say they work beyond their rostered hours at least weekly, and more than a fifth claim working patterns regularly leave them short of sleep, according to the General Medical Council’s (GMC) national training surveys.


The GMC has published the initial findings from its annual UK-wide surveys of more than 53,000 doctors in training and over 24,000 senior doctors who act as trainers.

Doctors in training told the GMC that overall satisfaction with their teaching remained high. Also, while many continue to report heavy workloads, the situation appears to have improved slightly since 2016.

Findings included around 53% of doctors in training in the UK who said they worked beyond their rostered hours at least weekly, and 22% who said their working patterns left them feeling short of sleep at work on a daily or weekly basis.

The 2017 figures are a slight improvement on 2016 – when 58% said they worked beyond their rostered hours at least weekly – but are broadly consistent with the findings of the GMC’s previous national training surveys.

The GMC report containing initial findings of the 2017 national training surveys is available here.

GMC Press Release

Over half of sessional GPs suffer work-related stress

At least half of sessional GPs suffer from work-related stress, according to a new survey by the BMA | OnMedica


The BMA reported that work-related stress has led more than one in ten sessional GPs to take time off work in the past year.

The BMA also found that a staggering 70% of locums would consider leaving the profession if a locum cap was introduced in general practice. It warned against anything – such as measures that harm locum pay – that could lead to an ‘exodus’ of locum and salaried doctors, who it said play a key part in solving the NHS’s current problems.

The BMA wanted to understand the issues that sessional GPs face, to ensure that its discussions with government accurately address their needs. So its sessional GP subcommittee conducted a UK-wide survey of salaried and locum GPs from 1st March to 6th April 2017.

Delivering care under pressure

NHS reality check: Delivering care under pressure | Royal College of Physicians | OnMedica

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Around three quarters of doctors (74%) say they are worried about the ability of their service to deliver safe patient care in the next 12 months due to pressures on the NHS, according to a survey carried out by the Royal College of Physicians (RCP).

The RCP launched a report today at its annual conference in which it detailed various concerns raised by the 2,101 doctors who responded to its survey.

The survey asked doctors about their experiences of delivering healthcare and their confidence in being able to raise concerns about patient care.

Focusing on their experiences of care over the past 12 months, 78% of doctors said demand for their service was rising and more than half (55%) of physicians believed patient safety had deteriorated.

More than a third (37%) said the quality of care had fallen while the majority (84%) had experienced staffing shortages in their team, while 82% believed the workforce was demoralised.

Read more on this at OnMedica

Full report: NHS reality check: Delivering care under pressure

Dentists’ morale has generally fallen

This report explores the relationship between the motivation and morale of selfemployed primary care dentists and their working patterns.


Despite this, over half of dentists (57 per cent) report that they have the opportunity to do challenging and interesting work and 55 per cent agreed that they feel good about their job. However, the report also found that the more time dentists spent on NHS work, the lower their levels of motivation.

The report explores the relationship between dentists’ motivation and morale and their working patterns, considering in particular:

  •  Weekly hours of work
  •  Division of time between NHS and private dentistry
  •  Division of time between clinical and non-clinical work
  •  Weeks of annual leave
  •  Age

Read the full overview here

Read the full report hereDentists’ morale has generally fallen, according to official statistics from NHS Digital

Two in five GP trainees’ education undermined by heavy workload, warns GMC

As many as two in five GP trainees face excessive workloads that interfere with their training, according to a GMC survey | GP Online


The GMC has warned that trainee doctors are struggling with increasingly heavy workloads, which it says is ‘eroding the time’ they have for training.

Results from the regulator’s annual National Training Survey (NTS) found that many trainees feel they are under significant and growing pressure that is ‘threatening the training they need to become the next generation of GPs and consultants’.

Read the full news story here

Training in Clinical Oncology and the Transition from Trainee to Consultant

Dickson, J. Clinical Oncology. Published online: November 10, 2016



  • New consultants would like more exposure to advanced radiotherapy techniques during specialty training.
  • Out-of-programme activities helped prepare trainees for their first consultant post.
  • The FRCR Examination is seen as essential in a technical specialty like clinical oncology.
  • Challenges faced by new consultants include a heavy workload and frequent changes to job plan between interview and start date.
  • New consultants are often reliant on arranging informal mentoring with colleagues for advice and support by themselves.

Read the abstract here