Fifty-five per cent of doctors are fearful of being unfairly blamed for errors due to pressures or system failures and 49 per cent now practise medicine defensively, according to figures from the BMA.
The findings from the latest BMA membership survey show that many doctors feel they are working in a non-supportive environment, where patient safety is being compromised and learning and reflection are discouraged.
Ninety-three per cent of almost 8,000 BMA members who responded want GPs and hospital doctors to work together more directly. Six in 10 said that the quality and safety of patient care is being compromised due to barriers between primary and secondary care.
Almost three-quarters of those who responded to the survey said financial targets still override patient care and 78 per cent say underfunding is significantly affecting quality and safety in the NHS.
“It is vital that the Government and policy makers heed the views of all doctors who provide care at the coalface; they are in the best place to know the problems the NHS faces on a daily, hourly basis,” said BMA council chair Chaand Nagpaul.
“They know the scale of impoverishment in the NHS is staggering and they are working in a culture which has improved little since the publication of the Francis and Berwick reports following the tragedies in Mid-Staffordshire five years ago.”
The BMA said “a new and bold approach is needed; one that prioritises patient safety over top down targets, removes barriers to collaboration and innovation, and replaces a culture of blame with a culture of learning. Achieving this will require a major shift in how the NHS operates, with a renewed focus on ensuring that staff are valued and supported.”