Tomorrow is National Doctors’ Day in the United States – a day on which Americans acknowledge the essential contribution physicians make to the lives of others. Several other countries have such a date in their calendars – the next is in Canada, on May 1, where citizens recognise their doctors via social media by tweeting using the hashtag #LoveMyMD. Brazil, Cuba, India, Iran, Vietnam or Nepal, all similarly recognise their physicians on a specific day every year. This begs the question for us in the UK – why don’t we have a day like this?
Perkbox, Europe’s fastest-growing employee benefits employee experience platform – and Doctor Care Anywhere, the GP-founded digital healthcare provider which delivers an integral part of Perkbox Medical – today propose that 5 of July (the NHS’ birthday) should be made ‘Doctor Appreciation Day’ in the UK, to recognise our GPs for the profound stress they endure to alleviate ours.
In light of concerning workplace trends among healthcare professionals, now seems the right time to take this step. The latest NHS Staff Survey revealed that 40% reported feeling unwell as a result of work-related stress, and fewer than 1 in 3 felt their organisation had taken firm enough action to improve staff wellbeing. If we cannot ensure our health professionals feel psychologically safe, the result may be system-wide disengagement, with potentially serious effects on health outcomes as well as physician wellbeing.
The British Medical Journal has warned that burnout has become a common workplace hazard among those working in healthcare. Around the same time, Stanford University’s medical school appointed the USA’s first Chief Wellness Officer for physicians, to lead initiatives on improving the wellbeing of physicians at the institution – something we are yet to see the like of in this country.
Meanwhile GPs in the UK are now leaving the profession in growing numbers, according to recent research by the Health Foundation, with many citing workload pressures as a key reason behind their decision to leave. GPs may be heroes, but they’re not gods – and nobody can be expected to remain a stranger to their loved ones for long. For retention to improve in healthcare, we need to give GPs the tools they need to manage those pressures more effectively – and the first step is greater recognition of what they do.
So, let’s give people in this country a new way of recognising their GPs for those long days – and nights – spent bringing us comfort in our most vulnerable moments. The expectation is ambitious but realistic: a bank holiday is not proposed, but a new hashtag (#LoveMyGP) is!
For GPs to mitigate the pressures they’re under, and achieve a better work/life balance, they need to be able to manage their own time more effectively. Services like Perkbox Medical allow GPs to choose where they are when they consult patients, allowing them the greater flexibility they need to see more of their families. What better way to show our appreciation of GPs than to help them to take control of their working lives?
The NHS Long Term Plan states that by 2023 everyone in the UK should have access to virtual GP services. Perkbox and Doctor Care Anywhere hope this can be achieved even sooner than that. With tools like Perkbox Medical, we can show our appreciation not only for doctors, but for the employees they treat – where employee health issues can be addressed as quickly and conveniently as possible, workplace stress can be reduced, leading to happier, more productive workplaces for all concerned.
Dr Bayju Thakar, founder of Doctor Care Anywhere, says: “Doctors are the last people to ask for this kind of recognition, but they’re among those who deserve it most. Let’s give it to them, and show some love to clinicians of all kinds, wherever they work in the UK’s healthcare system. I for one #LoveMyGP!”
Saurav Chopra, Cofounder and CEO of Perkbox, says: “We forget sometimes that doctors have lives outside of work: they have families and friends to see, and they need to eat, sleep and take care of themselves just like anyone else. Everyone who works hard needs more appreciation for what they do, and more control over their time – let’s recognise those incredible efforts, and provide the tools people need to keep going and stay happy!”