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Perhaps you need to think again according to recent UK report on Accident and Emergency (A&E) doctors. According to the “Stretched to the Limit” report, urgent action must be taken to ensure A&E departments (A&ED) remain sustainable & safe, doctors have warned. The call comes after a report found A&E consultants were facing “intolerable pressures” in the workplace. The College of Emergency Medicine said over 94% of medical consultants worked above their contracted hours in A&EDs in order to maintain levels of service, & 62% of doctors reported their job was not sustainable in the long term.

The response rate of the survey was 70% of the current UK Emergency Medicine consultant workforce (1077 respondents). When asked about on-call working frequency, worryingly a sizeable minority of 40.6% of the consultant workforce are undertaking an on-call rota rate of 1 in 6 nights or more frequent. In addition, 13% reported that they were working a full shift rota overnight, whilst 85% indicated that they were working to job plans whereby they worked till at least 22.00 hours. In fact 57% stated that they exceeded their job planned hours by 20% or more. The main reasons given for the lack of sustainability in the long term was the poor job planning & the lack of team/colleague support presumably because they were stretched so thin. The college said this has “potentially serious repercussions” for the safe work carried out by senior medics.

The ‘report suggested that pressures within the workplace could make it difficult to retain doctors, who may start looking at working in hospitals outside of the UK. One of the authors of the report, said prompt action was needed to address challenges as senior medical decision makers in emergency medicine provide one of the most vital strands in maintaining safety for emergency care systems in the UK. A failure to address these issues will compromise this ability and also further worsen the present workforce crisis affecting emergency departments.

Article by: Julie Armour – www.WorkingArmour.com.au

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