MDU doctor members want political parties to pledge support for their health and wellbeing

Over 90% of doctors responding to our survey want politicians to pledge support for the health and wellbeing of NHS staff.

Of those doctors responding to a Medical Defence Union (MDU) survey, 94% say they want political parties to include plans in their manifestos to support the health and wellbeing of the NHS workforce. Seven in ten (69%) of the 331 doctors responding to the MDU's survey also said they feel negative about the future of the NHS.

Thomas Reynolds, head of policy at the MDU, said:

"Our members have made their views clear, and it should be a wake up call for all politicians in this election campaign. They want all political parties to include commitments in their election manifestos to support the health and wellbeing of the NHS workforce. The people who care for us need NHS leadership and the government to care for them.

"The majority of doctors responding to our survey do not feel positive about the future of the NHS, and this is something that should concern us all. These are professionals caring for patients day in, day out, and doing their best for them, often against the odds. Morale is clearly being impacted and it is no wonder that they are looking for politicians to offer them more support with their own health and wellbeing needs.

"As we await the political party manifestos, we hope this is a call to action for politicians to really offer meaningful support in caring for the carers. Earlier this year, NHS England extended a programme whereby all doctors would access mental health support from the NHS Practitioner Health programme, having earlier said secondary care doctors would no longer be able to access the service. This was a welcome reversal and we are now calling on all the political parties to commit to this support for the long term."

One doctor responding to the survey commented:

"I have a great team of doctors and nurses at the hospital and practice. Unfortunately, due to a lack of beds, lack of social care/community discharges, and lack of staff, we are not able to deliver the care we wish to. It is not easy to summarise all the tribulations we are going through at the moment but mainly, the moral injury of not being able to deliver optimum healthcare weighs down hard upon all of us."

Only 7% of those responding said they always felt able to deliver optimal patient care, 38% said this was possible most of the time, 38% half the time and 17% less than half the time or rarely. The impact of this was lower team morale, concerns about receiving a complaint or claim and poorer mental health.

Notably, 44% of respondents said they are planning to reduce their hours because of these pressures and 28% are planning to leave practice or retire, while 43% are reprioritising their workloads.

Those responding to the survey were asked which medico-legal issues parliament should prioritise and this was the order they selected.

  1. Tackle waiting times/access to NHS treatment
  2. Better workplace facilities such as access to hot food out of hours and rest rooms
  3. Better support for staff mental health
  4. Reform healthcare regulation by the GMC
  5. Tackle abusive or threatening behaviour by patients
  6. Clinical negligence claims reform.

The MDU surveyed a sample of doctor members in May 2024 with the 331 respondents representing a 4% response rate. Respondents were GPs/GPSTs (31%), consultants/specialists (29%), specialty training grades (17%), foundation doctors (14%) and SAS/career grade doctors (9%).

This page was correct at publication on 11/06/2024. Any guidance is intended as general guidance for members only. If you are a member and need specific advice relating to your own circumstances, please contact one of our advisers.