Nearly three quarters of medical professionals feel stressed or anxious on a weekly basis

73% of medical members who responded to a survey* stated they feel stressed and/or anxious on a weekly basis according to new research published by the Medical Defence Union (MDU).

Based on the responses of 206 members*, the MDU also found that:

  • 57% believe they have a poor work/life balance
  • 47% would not feel confident raising a matter regarding their health and wellbeing
  • 44% often perform their role when they don’t feel fit or well
  • members were most likely to raise concerns about their own health and wellbeing with family members (85%), colleagues (55%) and/or their GP (44%).

Additionally, 73% of respondents feel their stress and anxiety levels are worse now compared to the beginning of the pandemic. This compares to 69% of respondents to the same survey question in May 2020.

Highlighting one possible source of stress, only 53% of respondents feel they are able to spend adequate time with patients. However, the number of respondents who feel they are making a positive difference to the lives of their patients is still high, with 89% in March 2021 and 88% in May 2020 believing this to be the case.

Moreover, 89% reported they feel supported by their colleagues while 82% believe that relationships among colleagues were positive.

Meanwhile separate research, in which the MDU surveyed 188 members preparing to undertake their foundation year training found over a fifth (22%) did not feel at all prepared for starting their FY1 year with no respondents feeling that they were very well prepared. 

When asked what areas they were concerned about when beginning foundation training, 41% said they were feeling unprepared due to disruption to final year study. Additionally, 30% said they were most concerned about adapting to a new workplace while 20% were most concerned about dealing with challenging patients.

Dr Catherine Wills, deputy head of advisory services at the MDU said:

"As a result of the pandemic, many medical professionals continue to face enormous stresses. During the first and second waves, many faced increased workloads and/or were working in an unfamiliar field of practice with new challenges – not only dealing with a new disease but managing seriously ill and dying patients who could not have their relatives with them.

"Many medics have been unwell themselves and may be dealing with long COVID now. They may have been bereaved of colleagues or loved-ones. Additionally, there are countless other sources of stress for medics during the pandemic such as worrying about patients with other conditions who might not have come forward for care, or did not have the usual options for care available.

"Consequently, the pandemic is an extremely challenging time for medical professionals and, as such, it is crucial for them to look after their own health as well as looking after their patients.

"Medical professionals shouldn’t feel they have to 'just deal with it’ but it can be daunting to ask for help and reach out for support. At the MDU, we recommend medical professionals make the most of their support network to help them deal with stresses. Medics mustn’t rely on their own assessment of their health but should, like anyone else, seek objective medical advice to help with anxiety, depression or any other medical condition."

Learn more about the sources of health and wellbeing support available to medical professionals. 

*The MDU surveyed 206 members in March 2021, a 2.06% response rate.

This page was correct at publication on 13/05/2021. 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.