Patient safety depends on doctors’ well-being. Medicine is a tough job, but it's made it far harder than it should be by neglecting the simple basics in caring for doctors’ well-being. The well-being of doctors is vital because there is abundant evidence that workplace stress in healthcare organisations affects quality of care for patients as well as doctors’ own health.
In 2018 the General Medical Council asked Professor Michael West and Dame Denise Coia to carry out a UK-wide review into the factors which impact on the mental health and well-being of medical students and doctors.
The detailed practical proposals in this report provide a road map to health service leaders faced with the challenge of developing healthy and sustainable workforces.
In two studies, researchers found that doctors with high levels of burnout had between 45% and 63% higher odds of making a major medical error in the following three months, compared with those who had low levels.
To ensure well-being and motivation at work, and to minimise workplace stress, people have three core needs, and all three must be met.
A - Autonomy/control – the need to have control over our work lives, and to act consistently with our work and life values.
B - Belonging – the need to be connected to, cared for, and caring of others around us in the workplace and to feel valued, respected and supported.
C - Competence – the need to experience effectiveness and deliver valued outcomes, such as high-quality care.
The review identified inspiring examples of organisations that meet these three core needs for doctors. An integrated, coherent intervention strategy will transform the work lives of doctors, their productivity and effectiveness, and thereby patient care and patient safety.