Record-breaking hospital activity exacerbating doctor stress levels
- On September 15, 2021
Doctors are facing higher than ever levels of hospital activity and indicate excessive workloads are contributing to workplace stress.
“Even before the second wave of COVID hit NSW, we were experiencing strikingly high emergency department activity and a corresponding spike in admitted patients. There is pressure throughout all parts of the system and the downstream impact on doctor morale is alarming,” said AMA (NSW) President, Dr Danielle McMullen.
The Bureau of Health Information released its Healthcare Quarterly results for April to June 2021 which revealed NSW emergency departments were the busiest they have been since the BHI began reporting in 2010. It also found the number of Triage Category 2 presentations were 10.6% higher than the same quarter in 2019.
“We’re seeing more patients overall and an increase in patients needing urgent care. You can see from the stats that this is impacting on treatment times and the ability for ambulances to transfer patients to ED.
“The pressure is intense in ED and on the wards it’s no better. We’re experiencing higher than ever numbers of admitted patients and the vast majority of these patients require immediate treatment.
“And this was before the COVID outbreak. It’s astounding to see how much pressure hospitals were under before the crisis and when you think of what we’re facing now, it’s very confronting,” Dr McMullen said.
In this same reporting period, AMA (NSW) conducted its own survey of senior public hospital doctors, and the results reveal a workforce that is feeling overworked and undervalued.
Eight out of 10 doctors in AMA (NSW)’s Senior Doctor Pulse Check indicated they are experiencing workplace stress, while 69% reported they do not feel valued by their hospital.
“Doctors are feeling pressure from hospital administration to perform, but there is not a corresponding acknowledgement of the hard work they do.
“Many senior hospital doctors feel a responsibility to their patients and that’s what is pushing them to perform, but they do not feel supported by their hospital or local health district,” Dr McMullen said.
The Senior Doctor Pulse Check revealed 87% of doctors feel valued or highly valued by patients and almost one in two (45%) feel motivated to go above and beyond what is required of them at work.
The Senior Doctor Pulse Check surveyed 1023 senior public hospital doctors in NSW over a five-week period closing in June. The survey was established to measure senior doctor engagement with management at hospitals and local health districts. The survey looked at leadership and alignment, culture and recognition, resourcing, wellbeing, and satisfaction.
“There has never been a more important time for NSW Health, local health districts and hospital management teams to engage with senior doctors.
“The Senior Doctor Pulse Check revealed a distinct lack of trust and poor communication between senior clinicians and management. If we’re going to improve our health system and meet the ongoing and increasing needs of our population, then we need to fix these issues – otherwise we risk losing doctors who are burnt out and fed up,” Dr McMullen said.
Media contact: Andrea Cornish - 0419 402 955