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Friday, 26 August 2005 12:18
BNN: British Nursing News Online · www.bnn-online.co.uk
Stress levels high among cancer doctors
A study by Cancer Research UK has found that cancer specialists are increasingly suffering from emotional exhaustion due to the enormous pressures of the job.

Working conditions have deteriorated and stress levels have increased significantly, with the proportion of consultants reporting distress rising from 27 per cent to 32 per cent since 1994, researchers found.

The report, published in The Lancet, blamed understaffing, high workloads, government targets and poor support for the trend.

The 2000 Cancer Plan was introduced to ensure that patients would wait no longer than two months from referral to treatment by the end of this year. The plan also increased the workload of NHS cancer specialists by one third.

Cath Taylor, from the Institute of Psychiatry, King's College London, said on the BBC Health website: "It appears to be in part due to increased stress from being poorly resourced and having responsibility for the quality of the work of other staff, together with trying to meet the expectations of relatives.

"On top of this, these consultants have an enormous workload coupled with insufficient levels of satisfaction from some areas of their work."

Professor Alex Markham, chief executive of Cancer Research UK, said: "Cancer specialists are under enormous pressure and need support.

"Many seem to be 'running on empty' - they're delivering high quality care to patients, but somewhere along the line it's been forgotten that we need to care for the doctors as well."

A Department of Health spokesman said: "Eighty percent of staff now say they have access to counselling services and the Department has also published specialist support for consultants on the responsibilities of taking on such a position.

"There's been an expansion of consultant numbers and we're committed to ensuring this continues."


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