Senior A&E doctor declares working in NHS emergency medicine 'sucks you in and spits you out'

Frank admission comes in Reddit AMA

Jon Sharman
Monday 09 January 2017 12:57 GMT
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A busy emergency department
A busy emergency department (Getty Images)

An accident and emergency doctor has taken to Reddit to explain what really goes on in a busy UK hospital.

The user, under the name Joan Dark, describes herself as a senior registrar in a "busy urban tertiary trauma centre" and admitted that emergency medicine "is a machine and you get sucked in and spat out".

She added she does not "really have any anger towards" Jeremy Hunt and said that although it "is a bit strong" to describe the NHS as in the grip of a humanitarian crisis, "maybe it is a term that needs to be used to reinvigorate some debate".

She said: "I don't have an overarching plan to cure the NHS, if I did I would expect significantly better pay and a nice government office, but I do have a wish list of things I'd like to see that would best help the emergency department.

"Massively target social care services to prevent elderly patients being trapped in ward beds causing exit block and to prevent their need to come to a hospital in the first place.

"Aim to have patients above a certain age make clear, legal, documentation of the kind of care and limits of care they wish to receive.

"Care for the NHS workforce. Don't just consider us cannon fodder. We're people, we need an incentive to want to work in the system rather than just being told it's our duty as doctors to work no matter how bad it gets."

The Red Cross announced last week its volunteers had been called in to help in a number of hospitals after two people died in the same A&E department in one week in Worcestershire.

Its chief executive, Mike Adamson, claimed the NHS was suffering a "humanitarian crisis".

Joan_Dark said she had worked in Australia during her career and experienced "significantly better working conditions and remuneration for staff" there.

She added: "I spent time in Australia in departments where the entire place was often run by purely UK and Irish doctors. It was always a decision made on the grounds of improved work life balance and better professional support."

Young doctors choosing to emigrate is "a result of poor care of trainees" and "entirely a result of failure of the NHS", she said.

User Burnsy2023 asked about long hours and fatigue.

Joan_Dark said: "I'd rather work long hours to reduce the number of days I work. If I step foot in work the day is 'ruined' no matter how short the shift is.

"ED is a machine and you get sucked in and spat out. I rarely realise I'm exhausted until the rush wears off in the car on the way home. I think I manage OK on 12-hour shifts but I'm probably not very objective."

She criticised Government cuts as "an ignorant application of ideology to the system" but said she did not believe there's "a conspiracy against the NHS going on".

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