One in 3 hospital doctors experience burnout

On average, doctors worked 57 hours a week

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File photo. Image: Andrew Matthews / PA Wire/Press Association Images

One in 3 hospital doctors have experienced burnout, according to a new survey.

Up to 10% reported severe to extremely severe levels of depression, anxiety and stress, despite the finding that over 70% of doctors are strongly motivated to practise medicine.

Four out of 5 doctors reported significant work stress, and felt the effort put into their work exceeded the rewards gained.

On average, doctors worked 57 hours a week and just 20% said they had enough time for family and personal life. 4 out of 5 reported going to work at times when they were ill or injured.

The findings of the survey were positive in some areas, with 8 in 10 reporting good or better overall health and general quality of life.

Health-wise, 80% reported less than optimal levels of physical activity, 1 in 10 drank alcohol to excess occasionally and 10% smoked.

The findings are from a research study led by Dr Blánaid Hayes, Dean of the Royal College of Physicians of Ireland’s Faculty of Occupational Medicine. Her study, launched in 2014, surveyed hospital doctors in Ireland at trainee and consultant level across all specialties. 

"Deeply concerning"

Commenting on her research, Dr Hayes said that she sees many frontline health professionals at her practice who require care and support.

“This study has addressed a gap in the knowledge-base on the health and well-being of hospital doctors in this country, including the challenges posed by stress and mental ill health.

“Frontline healthcare workers and clinicians are presenting with mood disorders and stress-related conditions which are at least in part related to working conditions including staff shortages.”

Prof Frank Murray, President of the Royal College of Physicians of Ireland said the findings were "deeply concerning".

“This research highlights how the stresses and strains placed on our current healthcare system are taking a toll on the frontline staff, which is a serious issue for each of them, but also can impact on the quality and safety of patient care as well as their personal and family life," he added.