Pressure on NHS is breaking doctors’ morale, says psychiatrist
Dr Julia Patterson of campaign group EveryDoctor tells why she quit health service ‘cut back to its very bones’
Julia Patterson recalls clearly the moment she decided she had to quit two things she treasured – practising medicine and working in the NHS – in order to safeguard her own mental health. “I loved my job,” she said. “I love psychiatry, but I could no longer go to work every day without tackling what was happening.”
She broke down to her husband: “I told him I just couldn’t send another homeless mentally ill patient out on to the streets after they’d arrived in A&E at 3am, suicidal and alone.”
It was a huge decision – to take a break from the career she had wanted to pursue for so long. She was halfway through her psychiatrist’s training and had passed all the exams young doctors have to sit when starting out on their careers.
“Doctors love their jobs, and most wouldn’t do anything else,” she said. “It’s our vocation to care for our patients. However, the level of stress endured by frontline NHS staff is unbelievable. Understaffing leaves doctors feeling isolated and stretched. There is often pressure to take on more patients, to work extra shifts, to stretch themselves thinner and thinner.”
Patterson left behind a service that she says has been left “cut back to its very bones” after nine years of austerity funding.