Thousands of exhausted doctors in the UK have told the British Medical Association they are considering leaving the NHS in the next year, saying they are battling stress and burnout without adequate respite from the exhaustion caused by the demands of the pandemic.

While half of respondents (2,099) in the Association’s latest survey said they plan to work fewer hours, 25 percent said they are ‘more likely’ to take a career break, with a further 21 percent considering leaving the NHS altogether for another career.

Asked why, many doctors pointed to workload, including the inability to take breaks or leave. In fact, almost 40 percent of respondents say they don’t even have a place at work where they can safely relax with colleagues, but know that they’d find it beneficial if they did.

Dr Chaand Nagpaul, BMA council chair, said: “It’s deeply worrying that more and more doctors are considering leaving the NHS because of the pressures of the pandemic – talented, experienced professionals who the NHS needs more than ever to pull this country out of a once-in-a-generation health crisis.

“Doctors and other healthcare workers have told us they need space and time to rest and recuperate – especially as we look ahead to tackling the frightening backlog of care of millions of patients.

“Far too many doctors and healthcare workers are being denied even a space to unwind in at work, never mind a proper break and time to recuperate. This is leading to a detrimental impact on doctors’ health and wellbeing and forcing them to feel as though they have no choice but to abandon a profession they love and worked so hard to achieve.

“This is not something that can be pushed down the queue – it’s a ticking time bomb that the UK Government must act on as a matter of urgency.

“Without doing so, we face a mass exodus of staff leaving the NHS and patient care put in serious jeopardy, all at a time when we need our health service more than ever before.”

We put the BMA’s findings to the Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust but they were unable to respond within our print deadline.

One doctor told the association“I do go home a zombie. In the last few weeks, I’ve sat at home, once or twice until two in the morning, concerned I may have missed something. The pressure during the day is phenomenal, and several GPs are now saying the last month is the hardest they have ever worked. Many are looking to take their pension and go.”