A survey of BMA members in Scotland reveals a medical profession that is under pressure and fearful of making errors, and one that believes funding and targets are given more priority than patient care.
The survey of 999 members, completed during the summer, shows that 91 per cent of doctors are working over their allotted hours, almost four in 10 say bullying and harassment is an issue in their workplace, and almost half do not feel confident about raising concerns about patient care.
It also reveals that 93 per cent are sometimes or often fearful of making medical errors, with 48 per cent saying this fear is worsening. In the wake of the Hadiza Bawa-Garba case, around half of those surveyed worried about being unfairly blamed for errors owing to system failings and pressures in the workplace.
More than four in 10 respondents said they practise defensively, while almost three quarters said they are wary of recording reflective practice for fear it could be used against them.
Almost three-quarters believe national targets are prioritised over patient care and 68 per cent feel the same about finances.
Commenting on the findings, BMA Scottish Council Chair, Dr Lewis Morrison said: “It is clear from the results that there are simply not enough doctors to deliver the quality care we all strive to provide.”
He pointed out that the survey predated the Scottish Government’s “unacceptable decisions on doctors’ pay for this year, and it therefore seems inevitable that morale will have deteriorated further”.
He called for the survey results to be the start of a process “to reverse the deterioration in working conditions for doctors and other healthcare workers in Scotland”.
“I truly believe that if they are used constructively, the results will be a useful tool not just for us, but for policy makers, employers and managers at all levels,” Dr Morrison said.