Doctors within the NHS are reporting significant challenges within our healthcare system. Research conducted by the 2022 GMC national training survey has demonstrated that 63% of trainees and 52% of doctors working as trainers are at ‘moderate’ or ‘high risk’ of burnout. Burnout can ultimately lead to doctors leaving the profession.
An effective mentoring programme has a positive wellbeing impact on staff, making them feel less stressed and more fulfilled at work. These programmes are incredibly cost effective and can save an average Trust £14.245 million. To learn more, click the button below.
Doctors within the NHS are reporting significant challenges within our healthcare system. Research conducted by the 2022 GMC national training survey has demonstrated that 63% of trainees and 52% of doctors working as trainers are at ‘moderate’ or ‘high risk’ of burnout. Burnout can ultimately lead to doctors leaving the profession. The risk of burnout has increased across every speciality since last year’s GMC survey. The same study revealed that two-thirds of trainee doctors reported feeling ‘always’ or ‘often’ worn out at the end of their working day with 44% reporting feeling regularly exhausted in the morning, at only the thought of another work day. Two fifths of trainees reported feeling burnt out to a ‘high’ or ‘very high’ degree because of their work, and over half of the doctors that responded felt that their work was emotionally exhausting to a ‘high’ or ‘very high’ degree.
On a similar note, a recent BMA survey looking into junior doctors’ wellbeing, revealed that of those that responded 71% of junior doctors in England have attended work, despite not being well enough to undertake their duties. It found that there is a continuing decline in the wellbeing of junior doctors with 81% reporting that their health and wellbeing is ‘worsening’ or ‘not improving’ since the pandemic in 2021. It was also reported that work related stress has caused 78% of those that responded to feel unwell.
With the workforce feeling exhausted and the mounting pressures with the backlog from the pandemic, the risk of losing more talented doctors from the workforce is increasing. 79% of 3819 doctors who responded to a BMA survey aiming to gain an insight into the lives of junior doctors, reported that they often think about leaving the NHS whilst 65% have actively researched this in the last 12 months.
These initiatives can provide valuable support to doctors. Despite these valuable resources, surveys show that many doctors are still wanting to leave the profession and the majority are facing burnout.
Some of these include:
The National Health Service (NHS) Practitioner Health Programme: This is a confidential service that provides support and treatment for doctors and dentists experiencing mental health and addiction issues.
The Royal Medical Benevolent Fund: This organisation provides financial assistance and support to doctors, medical students, and their families who are in need.
The British Medical Association (BMA): The BMA provides a range of services to support doctors’ wellbeing, including a counselling service, a wellbeing support service, and a peer support service.
NHS Employers: This organisation provides a range of resources and tools to support doctors’ wellbeing, including guidance on managing stress and preventing burnout.
Medical Schools Council: This organisation provides guidance and resources to support the wellbeing of medical students.
The General Medical Council (GMC): The GMC provides guidance and resources to support doctors’ wellbeing, including advice on managing stress and seeking help when needed.
The Royal College of Physicians: This organisation provides a range of resources and services to support doctors’ wellbeing, including guidance on managing stress and improving work-life balance.
A survey of doctors in the UK, published in the British Medical Journal in 2016, found that many doctors were reluctant to seek support or advice from their employers or regulatory bodies because of negative repercussions on their careers. Similarly, a review of the literature on mentoring in healthcare published in the Journal of Clinical Nursing in 2019, noted that some doctors may be sceptical of mentoring relationships established by their employers or regulatory bodies; because they may be seen as serving the interests of the organisation rather than the individual doctor. Doctors feel intimidated by initiatives provided by organisations responsible for their careers, assessment and training.
This makes it difficult for organisations such as NHS Employers, NHS Trusts, the Medical Schools Council, RCP or the GMC, to run impactful wellbeing initiatives. Doctors would fear to engage because of stigma, lack of trust and concerns over how their personal information may have a negative impact on their careers. This is one of Doctor Mentor’s core strengths as an independent mentoring organisation. We remain impartial because we have no influence on a doctor’s career progression, and no involvement in regulating and monitoring their work.
We have already demonstrated the effectiveness of a mentorship model at Medic Mentor – a social enterprise that has delivered training to over 50,000 aspiring medical students via e-learning platforms, in person events, a podcast, residential events and mentoring from medical students and doctors. We have developed Doctor Mentor as a branch of this network and community and we will be using the existing infrastructures and networks within Medic Mentor. Having access to the staffing and resources at Medic Mentor means that we will be able to achieve rapid scalability of existing Doctor Mentor programmes, to create an engaging and interactive doctors’ society.
Many elements of the Doctor Mentor programme, are already delivered to the doctors at Medic Mentor. Within our own network we have engaged 3000 doctors over the last 3 years. This relatively small group has gained confidence and skills from our mentoring programme; they have applied these skills to their work, culminating in professional achievements which have given them greater job satisfaction. However, by delivering the mentorship programme at a national level via Doctor Mentor, we are ensuring that all doctors benefit from wellbeing and mentoring services.
Research conducted by Doctor Mentor has demonstrated similar dissatisfaction to that reported in the BMA and GMC’s research. However, this research has also demonstrated that doctors are craving positivity, innovation and change. Doctors are keen to support each other and are looking for a safe, positive platform to instil confidence, up-skill and work together to problem-solve.
A survey on our current Doctor Mentor cohort, showed that 100% of respondents would be more likely to remain within their chosen career, following our wellbeing interventions. Our research has shown that with access to a support network of doctors, almost all of the doctors reported that they would feel more empowered to instigate change, and to problem-solve at local and national levels. These findings indicate that our mentoring programme can go a long way to enhancing retention and a positive culture within the NHS.
The reasons reported in the GMC national training survey as to why doctors are considering leaving the profession are preventable. With time, energy and investment in the correct places, Doctor Mentor can make a significant change to the working lives of doctors and their patients.
Doctor Mentor believes in a holistic approach to the issues within the healthcare system. Focusing energy on the root cause will provide opportunity for real change. The current financial situation for doctors is not the only problem. Whilst appropriate remuneration is critical in supporting doctors’ wellbeing, the rates of burnout are likely to remain the same if the focus is purely on pay. We believe that enrolling all doctors on our national mentoring programme, would actually prevent further strikes and reduce dissatisfaction in the workplace.
Estimating the potential cost savings of a doctor retention programme, is a complex task that would depend on several factors. These include the number and types of doctors being retained, the cost of recruiting and training new doctors, and the cost of providing support and incentives to retain doctors. However, we can make some rough estimates based on the available data. According to workforce statistics from NHS Digital, as of July 2021, there were around 159,000 doctors working in the NHS in England. If 10% of these doctors were leaving the NHS, that would equate to approximately 15,900 doctors. For context, BMA surveys have indicated that 65% of doctors have researched leaving the NHS within the last 12 months, and 40% are planning to leave within the next 5 years.
According to a report by the Centre for Workforce Intelligence, the cost of training a doctor can be up to £500,000, depending on the specialty. Additionally, recruiting new doctors can involve significant costs for advertising, interviewing, and relocation expenses. Therefore, if we take a conservative estimate of £250,000 per doctor (half of the cost above), and multiply this by 10% of the total number of doctors (15,900), this would prevent the NHS from losing £39.75 billion that was spent on training these doctors. Similarly, if we consider that an average sized NHS Trust (based on workforce size) employs 500-600 doctors, the saving for an individual trust alone if they could retain 10% of their doctors would be £13.75 million.
Although these are initial estimates, they are conservative. The real-world savings of an effective Doctor Mentor wellbeing programme that retains doctors, is likely to be much higher. Therefore, the value of running an effective wellbeing programme that results in doctor retention, cannot be understated.
We understand that each Trust is unique and the workforce varies in size. The best way to calculate the cost of running a bespoke mentoring programme at your Trust, is to get in touch with us by phone or email. Please provide us with the number of doctors and other healthcare professionals at your Trust. We will then arrange a proposal with a clear breakdown of costs and savings, which we can meet to discuss in further detail.
Phone: 01530 417 299
We look forward to hearing from you.
Doctor Mentor has been created for doctors by doctors. It is a comprehensive mentorship programme and society for doctors aimed at improving the wellbeing, job satisfaction and retention of doctors. It has been created at a crucial time when doctors need this the most.
The programme focuses on three core areas:
Our commitment is rooted in the belief that a fulfilled and motivated doctor will create a ripple effect in delivering the highest quality of care to patients and building a brighter future for the NHS.
We strive to foster a culture of continuous learning, collaboration, and innovation within the NHS while upholding our profession’s highest ethical standards and values. Together, we envision a future where every doctor has the support and guidance they need to thrive and positively impact the health and wellbeing of our communities.