17 Nov 2016

Many senior doctors want to quit - survey

7:16 pm on 17 November 2016

A new survey indicates a significant number of senior doctors and dentists intend to quit their job in the next five years.

Hospital hallway, doctor, nurse, file pic, generic

Doctors said flexible working hours, the ability to take leave, better remuneration, more opportunities and a better workplace culture would make them stay. Photo: 123RF

The results were released at the Association of Salaried Medical Specialists' annual conference in Wellington on Thursday.

It said 2424 of its members took part in the survey, a response rate of 63 percent.

A quarter (572 survey respondents) said they planned to leave either medicine or the district health board they worked for in the next five years.

Of those who intended staying, 40 percent might look at reducing their work hours, 30 percent would like to decrease their on-call and/or shift work, and 8 percent would like to stop doing on-call work altogether.

They cited age, poor job satisfaction, culture, remuneration and workloads as key influencing factors.

Association executive director Ian Powell said it pointed to a looming exodus of public hospital specialists, which should worry district health boards.

"Hospital specialists are going to work even when they're sick or experiencing symptoms of burnout, and many of them are starting to look for the exit doors."

The association said the top factors that would encourage them to reconsider leaving were flexible working hours, the ability to take leave, better remuneration, more opportunities and a better workplace culture.

Growing teeth could be the future of dentistry.

The Association of Salaried Medical Specialists says the survey results point to a looming exodus of public hospital specialists. Photo: AFP Photo: AFP

What respondents said:

"Feel under-valued, being bullied, passive violence at workplace. Cost-cutting putting clinicians at risk."

"Little appreciation from managers for the skills older practitioners bring to the job. Some members of department view 'old fogies' as inferior."

"Why stick it out when I can earn more and work less in private practice? My only concern is I will truly miss working in a team and teaching medical students, junior doctors and allied staff."

"I am fed up with targets and chronic under-staffing and lack of resources."

The survey has not been finalised yet.

Doctors under pressure, association says

"A third of rheumatologists and endocrinologists who answered plan to leave medicine entirely in the next five years, with smaller but still considerable numbers planning to do the same in obstetrics and gynaecology, public health medicine, otolarnygology, and geriatric medicine," the association said.

"Smaller and mid-sized DHBs [are] facing a potentially bigger exodus of senior doctors than some of the larger DHBs."

In the Wairarapa District Health Board, more than half of those who took part in the survey planned to leave either medicine or that DHB within five years.

Mr Powell said senior doctors, along with other health professionals, were under intense and sustained pressure to keep the public health sector functioning effectively "in the absence of ongoing resourcing and longstanding shorgages that have yet to be properly addressed."

Pressure was taking a toll on doctors' wellbeing and job satisfaction.