Calls for Federal Government to release workforce modelling and boost resources as survey shows major burnout among doctors

Monday, 1 November 2021

The Royal Australasian College of Physicians is calling for the Federal Government to release its healthcare workforce modelling and increase hospital resources – after a survey of its members shows 87 per cent of respondents are concerned about burnout.

The survey also reveals many physicians are already fearing what ongoing high rates of hospitalisations for COVID-19 will do to the system that was already stretched before the pandemic.

RACP President and respiratory physician Professor John Wilson says, “Our members are overwhelmingly telling us that the healthcare system is under pressure and has been for some time – and it’s our frontline doctors and healthcare workers who are feeling the stretch.

“Too many doctors are suffering from sheer burnout and exhaustion, and continued COVID- 19 hospitalisations are putting an additional burden on the hospital system that needs to be addressed.

“We understand that the Federal Department of Health has undertaken modelling to guide resource planning for hospitals. Our hospitals are clearly facing a crisis, and so we call on the Government to urgently release this modelling.

“We’re also calling on the Federal Government to heed the calls of other organisations and provide the additional resourcing required so that our healthcare system can operate as effectively as possible to get us through this next phase of the pandemic and beyond.”

The RACP surveyed its members across Australia between September and October and from 812 respondents, found that:

  • 87 per cent say they are concerned about staff burnout
  • 76 per cent say they are concerned about an increase in COVID-19 hospital admissions
  • 82 per cent say they are concerned about reduced capacity to address non-COVID-19 hospital admissions
  • 81 per cent say they are concerned about delays in screening leading to exacerbations of other medical conditions
  • 62 per cent say they have been concerned about their risk of infection and 1 in 5 say they have been concerned about the risk of their own death.

“Dealing with COVID-19 has reduced the hospital system’s capacity to manage the normal range of non-COVID-19 hospital admissions. This, combined with delayed screening which may exacerbate other medical conditions, will impact on the health of our community for some time and additional funding will be needed.

“One third of respondents have told us that their employer has not provided sufficient support during the pandemic as they struggle to cope with the increased risk of infection and increased workload and stress.

“Medical leadership is now more than ever, essential to re-allocate physician resources within major hospitals.

“Without additional resources, the health system cannot manage the normal level of activity, let alone COVID-19 hospitalisations without there being significant negative effects across the system.

“Our survey shows this has already happened. We cannot continue like this, without a major boost to resourcing in COVID-19 hospitals."

“We need to see all workplaces stepping up and providing their workers with the resource they need to alleviate these burnout issues. This includes focussed, wellbeing support, more frontline staff to share the load and better systems management” Professor Wilson said.

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