Healthy Doctor, Healthy Patient?

If you’re thinking this might be another blog about a UK trained doctor moving to Australia to work and then raving about how great it is, well then, you’re right.

I hope the title of this blog is self explanatory, too.

I’ve noticed a massive change in myself since coming to Australia to work, but first, let me give you some background:

Previously studying medicine in England and working for 2 years in Scotland I have a decent understanding of the NHS.

Don’t get me wrong – the NHS is a fantastic service – one that almost any country in the world would envy. Free healthcare delivered with relative efficiency is a brilliant thing.

However, I don’t think the population, namely the government, truly appreciates what it is like to actually work in the NHS.

(In fact, I sincerely believe all politicians should shadow doctors and nurses for a week of nightshifts in Emergency so they truly understand what their job actually is).

After doing a 4 month rotation in a Glasgow A&E, I was left feeling exhausted.

It only took 4 months – less in fact.

A ruthless timetable and a constantly busy emergency were the precipitating factors undoubtedly. I must say the support from colleagues and consultants was fantastic, and I say thank you to them.

But…

I can admit it – I was stressed. And tired. Almost constantly.

Since moving to work in Australia, I’ve noticed one major difference:

Less patients and more staff.

The result?

I don’t feel exhausted like I used to. (OK, this may be partly due the better work-life balance Down Under – extra time I have available to spend on the beach).

I feel I have the time to spend with patients, and I believe this is in their best interest.

In the UK I must say there were times when I felt that the sheer volume of patients far exceeded the treating capacity of the doctors and space available in the Emergency room, something I’ve not seen nearly to the same degree here in Australia.

This is clearly wrong.

Does seeing patients more quickly lead to better outcome?

Of course.

Does being fatigued or having more time to chat to patients change my clinical decisions or clinical outcome?

Perhaps not.

However, I do believe it changes the patient’s perception of their stay and future trust or outlook on their care, which, I believe, can potentially change their long term outcome.

Therefore, in some respect, I do believe that having a healthy, happy doctor reflects on patient outcome – it just might not be seen in short term studies which have examined this.

I feel much more healthy since moving to work in Australia.

And I sincerely hope that my patients have benefited from it.

I also sincerely hope that the NHS and politicians in the UK will take their wonderful NHS more seriously.

We’re under the impression that politicians are responsible for looking after it’s people. Ultimately, it’s the healthcare workforce that will look after you.

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One thought on “Healthy Doctor, Healthy Patient?

  1. Extremely well written blog and there is no doubt that patients benefit far more, when they see a doctor who has a good work/life balance and who is not over-burdened by having to treat a large volume of patients, day after day. The UK government must act now, to change the ever over burdened NHS system, that currently operates throughout the UK, in order to reduce the ever increasing workload placed on doctors. If no government action is taken in the UK, doctors will simply burnout and resign, adding further stresses to the NHS system.

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