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NHS Trusts must tackle stress and burnout among health professionals

NHS trusts must be encouraged to tackle stress and burnout among health professionals for their own and their patients’ safety, argues Dr Fiona Godlee, The BMJ’s Editor in Chief.

Next month at BMJ Live, a two-day career development event for health professionals, she will call on NHS trusts to appoint chief wellness officers, charged with implementing strategies to reduce burnout, as part of The BMJ’s campaign for doctors’ wellbeing.

The ‘giveusabreak’ campaign calls for doctors to be able to take breaks and to have places where they can rest and recuperate, for their own and their patients’ safety.

For many doctors working in the NHS or any other over-stretched health system, working long and often unsociable hours without adequate rest breaks has become the norm.

Evidence suggests that with year-round pressures on services demanding beds and facilities, doctors’ lounges and other informal staff spaces are often not prioritised, while rest facilities for use at night have also disappeared.

This isn’t a new idea, says Godlee. Medical organisations, trade unions, and royal colleges have campaigned on this issue in the past and continue to do so. However, the problem persists and may be getting worse.

“We will bring these organisations together, along with other stakeholders such as employer and patient organisations, in a united effort to change systems, working practices, and culture to ensure that doctors get the breaks they need,” she says.

The BMJ is inviting doctors to take part in the campaign by sharing examples of where things are changing for the better – or where more work needs to be done – through social media using #giveusabreak

BMJ Live, 4-5 October 2019, Olympia, London live.bmj.com

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