Working together to lighten the load

Sharon Solomon appeals to fellow clinicians to address disillusionment and burnout at work

It seems that we need to work faster, harder, see more patients, write notes in a timely fashion, maintain a good bedside manner and above all make money for the NHS.

In theory these goals are wonderful, but in practice the NHS as I knew it 40 years ago bears little resemblance to how we as practitioners work. Of course, time brings change, but when that change is detrimental and claustrophobic to those of us wanting to treat our patients in a supportive environment, surely there is a problem. 

Do I know how to fix it? No. Do I have something to say on the matter, yes.

Work harder. What does that mean? See more patients in each day, giving them less time, but remaining just as thorough, supportive and available. Attend meetings, training, phone patients, write letters and notes, input data in a timely manner. Your managers can see how many patients you see per day and week, and you need to explain why there are gaps in your diary. Not exactly a trusting working environment. 

So who is breathing down whose neck? I thought the NHS was an institution created from the welfare state for the welfare of its citizens, not a business enterprise. As such, can it not grow financially and be less aligned to a loss and profit margin? In today’s climate, I think not. To have an institution that is willing to deliver medical care from cradle to grave is quite simply marvellous. It is amazing that currently here in the UK this model still exists though it is being squeezed financially and being crippled emotionally. It should be cherished and nurtured, not exploited and suffocated. 

We are very lucky in today’s climate to have a job, but that doesn’t mean people should be overworked, disillusioned, suffering from burn-out and ultimately leaving a system they know deserves more yet they have no more to give. 

I welcome your solution to this conundrum.

  • Sharon Solomon is a Band 6 physiotherapist at the Royal Free Hospital

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