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Take a look at a selection of our recent media coverage:

New policy to support wellbeing of doctors in Europe published by CPME

27th November 2023

Recommendations to enhance the wellbeing of doctors across Europe have been published as part of a new policy from the Standing Committee of European Doctors (CPME).

With the aim of improving patient care, professional excellence and overall job satisfaction, each of the recommendations is designed to support the holistic wellbeing of doctors at all stages of their careers.

The policy highlights the fact that the ‘demanding nature of [doctors‘] work, long working hours and high levels of stress can take a toll on their physical and mental health’.

‘These challenges are further compounded by workforce shortages and the pursuit of a work-life balance that accommodates family life,’ it adds.

As such, the policy document discusses regulatory measures, cultural shifts and personal resilience enhancement that the CPME deems necessary to support doctors’ wellbeing and positively influence patient safety and healthcare quality.

This includes focusing on adequate staffing and workload management, embracing a people-focused working culture, championing mentoring and peer support networks and supporting doctors as parents and carers.

The need to foster mental health, address burnout and reduce stigma is also highlighted.

A series of specific recommendations for healthcare institutions; the EU, national governments and administrations; and universities and organisations providing medical education and training are also outlined.

Dr Christiaan Keijzer, CPME president, said: ‘The wellbeing of doctors is not only a personal matter but also a critical factor that directly influences patient safety and healthcare quality. Our policy is a reflection of our commitment to creating an environment where doctors can thrive both personally and professionally.’

Dr Martin Balzan, CPME vice president, added: ‘European doctors call on the EU and Member States to ensure effective enforcement of EU directives like the Working Time Directive and Parental Leave Directive. We must ensure that all available tools are aligned to improving the wellbeing of doctors.

‘We urge healthcare institutions to implement benchmarks for minimum workforce capacities to ensure safe staffing levels, which is only possible with fair financial remuneration.

‘We also encourage a supportive organisational culture, emphasising autonomy, a peer support network, and a sense of dialogue, trust and belonging. A culture of wellbeing among young doctors can be promoted by highlighting role models who exemplify a healthy work-life balance.’

Need for patient education on AI in healthcare to build trust revealed in new survey

9th October 2023

Almost two thirds of patients are comfortable with using healthcare settings that use artificial intelligence (AI), but only if they are familiar with the technology, according to a new survey from GlobalData.

The results revealed that 60% of patients who were familiar with AI were either very or quite comfortable with attending an AI-enabled healthcare setting. When it came to people who weren’t familiar with the technology, this level of comfort fell to just 7% of patients.

A lack of in-person interaction was the top patient concern associated with physicians using AI in clinical practice, and most patients felt more comfortable with physicians using it to automate administrative tasks compared to directing patient care.

Faster healthcare delivery and mitigation of healthcare staff shortages were identified as the main benefits associated with AI use in clinical practice.

The survey data also reveals that those aged 18-55 years were more likely to be familiar with AI than those aged 56 years and over, with more than 50% of the younger group rating their knowledge as moderately or very familiar.

Commenting on the important and evolving use of AI to detect image-based diseases such as cancer, Urte Jakimaviciute, senior director of market research at GlobalData, said: ‘Together with the development of a robust regulatory framework, it is imperative to prioritise patient education regarding the technology.

‘This education should aim to enhance comprehension of AI’s utilisation, its potential advantages, and associated adoption risks, ultimately fostering increased trust in AI. Enhanced knowledge empowers individuals to make informed decisions and mitigate biases linked to this technology.’

Similar issues around trust have been identified in previous studies. For example, a 2021 study looking at patient apprehensions about the use of AI in healthcare, published in the journal NPJ Digital Medicine, identified concerns relating to its safety, threats to patient choice, potential increases in healthcare costs, data-source bias and data security.

These authors also concluded that ‘patient acceptance of AI is contingent on mitigating these possible harms’.

The new GlobalData survey, Thematic Intelligence: AI in Clinical Practice – Patient Perspective 2023, saw 574 patient respondents from the US, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, the UK, Japan, Brazil, Canada, India and Mexico.

The patients were diagnosed with conditions such as heart diseases, diabetes, multiple sclerosis, cancer, chronic respiratory conditions, rheumatoid arthritis, psoriasis and inflammatory bowel disease. They were surveyed between July and August 2023.

Stress and high workload confirmed as main reasons staff leave NHS

25th September 2023

Pay increases alone will only have ‘a modest impact’ on NHS staff retention because the main problems are stress and high workload, according to the findings of a recent survey.

The survey of 1,958 NHS health professionals from across the UK also highlighted understaffing are a main factor pushing healthcare workers to leave the NHS.

Researchers from the universities of Bath, Sheffield and Leicester wanted to assess ‘push factors’ behind decisions to leave the NHS, and whether these were ranked differently by profession and NHS setting, a year after exposure to the effects of the pandemic.

The survey, carried out in summer and autumn 2021, determined the relative importance NHS staff gave to eight factors as the key reasons for leaving NHS employment.

It was completed across acute, mental health, community and ambulance services by 227 doctors, 687 nurses/midwives, 384 healthcare assistants and other nursing support staff, 417 allied health professionals and 243 paramedics.

Each respondent was presented with two push factors at a time, for all combinations of pairings, and asked to indicate which of these two factors is the bigger influence on why staff in each job role leave the NHS.

The factors compared were staffing levels, working hours, mental health/stress, pay, time pressure, recognition of contribution, workload intensity and work–life balance.

The findings, published in BMJ Open, showed that health professionals ranked work-related stress, workload intensity and staffing levels as the primary ‘push factors’ underpinning decisions to leave the NHS.

This prompted the authors to suggest that pay increases alone may not be sufficient to fix NHS staff retention.

They concluded: ‘Rankings of leave variables across the different health professional families exhibit a high degree of alignment, at the ordinal level, and highlight the primacy of psychological stress, staff shortages and work intensity.

‘While increases in pay are transparently important to NHS staff, findings from this research suggest that enhancements in that domain alone may produce a modest impact on retention.’

They said that ‘an equivalent conclusion’ might be drawn with respect to the ‘current high-profile emphasis’ on increased access to flexible working hours as a solution within contemporary NHS staff retention guidance to employers.

The authors added: ‘Both have potential to do good, but there are grounds for inferring there is a risk that neither may deliver sufficient good to redress the high and rising exodus in the absence of attention to what present as more fundamental factors driving exit.

‘Importantly, scope for addressing the highest-ranked factors driving exit, in large degree, lies beyond the gift of NHS employers.’

RCGP chair Professor Kamila Hawthorne said: ‘This latest survey highlights the point that resolving the workforce issues in UK healthcare is not about pay alone – we can’t expect issues which have been decades in the making to be resolved overnight.‘

A version of this article was originally published by our sister publication Pulse.