The health of the Doctor as ‘care giver’ is inexorably linked to ‘care receivers’

I recently had the great pleasure to present the findings from one of my recent studies into workplace resilience and wellbeing to the Medical Women’s Foundation in London.

While much attention naturally diverted at times towards the negotiations of the proposed changes regarding junior doctors contracts, the major concern of all present was how we develop the resilience of doctors who work in the ‘frontline’ of the NHS.

As the day unfolded we discovered how NHS doctors are trying to find ways to manage increasingly stressful working conditions, and in doing so provide the best possible care within often toxic working environments. There were some wonderful presentations from inspiring people who genuinely cared as much for their colleagues as they did for the patients that the NHS serves.

In amongst the day, was my work which is about supporting staff to develop their own resilience and wellbeing, by creating the conditions themselves to become and sustain their ‘best self’. Even though sometimes we think that there is nothing we can do about the working environment, especially in the most challenging of times, there is irrefutable evidence to show that we still retain control over our situation in work, by believing (and acting on that belief) we can change things for the better.

While the resilience and wellbeing of the doctor may be eroded, there is a way back towards the ‘best self’ through a Salutogenic process; some of us engage with the process naturally, and because of which we are known for our ability to recover from the most difficult and challenging setbacks or traumas. For those of us who do not ‘bounce back’ as a matter of course, there are wonderful empowering methods that, if practiced over time, produce deep and lasting transformation.

I was extremely fortunate to present my work alongside the wonderful Dr. Olwen Williams, who because of her extraordinary sense of compassion, commissioned my work for her Future Hospital Team, and it was this that provided me the opportunity to carry out my study.

As the traumatic working conditions in the NHS become more open to discussion, I am hopeful that we have come to the point where we can act and support NHS staff in an honest and dynamic way, for too long we have looked the other way and blamed staff for being unable to deliver the care we need, the health of the care givers is inexorably linked to care receivers, thankfully we are beginning to take notice.