Scots doctor ‘quit the NHS’ for own wellbeing as work culture like ‘being in the trenches’


A Scottish doctor quit the NHS for a new life in Australia following fears he was heading for a breakdown.

Dr Michael Mrozinski, from Glasgow, has described his seven-year stint in the UK health service as ‘like being in the trenches’.

The 36-year-old, who worked in A&E departments and as a locum GP across Scotland and London, claims he often being forced to stay up to two hours after his shift finished.

He adding there was ‘an unwritten rule’ that staff had to sacrifice their own wellbeing ‘for the sake of the NHS’.

His stark revelations come after the BBC aired ‘This Is Going To Hurt’ on Tuesday night – a drama based on the bestseller book by Adam Kay about the realties of working for the NHS.

Michael Mrozinski first started working in the National Health Service in 2009 after graduating from the University of Glasgow in 2008, and claims he was thrown into a ‘very stressful’ and ‘intense’ environment due to staff shortages.

The GP eventually decided to leave his job in 2016 and upped sticks for Australia – where he has been working ever since.

Now he has compared ‘the trenches’ of the NHS to the easier life he leads in Brisbane, Queensland, claiming ‘every other nurse’ at his workplace is from the UK or Ireland as they are also fed up of being overworked.

Michael said: “I always vowed that when I did finish my training, I’d tell people exactly how [the NHS] is.

“I’m not telling people not to do it but I’m saying if they want to go into medicine or nursing, they need to know exactly what they’re getting into.

“It feels like you’re in the trenches, it’s intense.

“In Australia, the big difference is there’s a huge focus on the bigger picture. They look after the workforce.

“Every other nurse here is from the UK or Ireland because the staffing levels are good and you get a good work-life balance.

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“I love working here. I go to my job, I’m happy. Occasionally I’ll see some upsetting stuff or something hits me quite hard, but in the UK I wasn’t able to do anything else because I was in such a bad headspace from what I had to do in the day.”

Michael first caught sight of the difficult road ahead when he started working in the Glasgow area as a junior doctor.

I found there were staff shortages even then [in 2009] and feared he would be putting ‘a target on his back’ if he complained.

Michael said: “I graduated in 2009 and even then there were shortages on the rota with people dropping out because they couldn’t handle the stress and people realizing that it wasn’t what they wanted to do.

“In the NHS, there’s an unwritten rule that you have to sacrifice your health, your own mental health, for the sake of the NHS. Everybody has to step up if there’s not enough staff.

“When I was doing my training, one of the things that annoyed me the most is you realize these things, but you’re not able to say anything about them.

Dr Michael on TikTok

“If you say something about your training, that you’re being overworked, then it really puts a target on your back and your supervisors would probably not sign you off for the next stage of the training.

“There’s shortages in staff and that’s not been addressed. They definitely can’t recruit enough people to cover it.

“It leads to a crumbling system and the people left are under the most strain.

“It’s absolutely crazy. I have sympathy for people who get into [healthcare] then get out of it very quickly.”

After qualifying, he claims he went on to train as a GP and on rotation experienced traumatic scenes that he was offered no psychological support for.

Over the years, he claims the accumulated stress saw him suffering crippling migraines and sleeping at any chance he got – even seeing a change in his ‘happy-go-lucky’ personality.

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Michael said: “By the time I was a fully-fledged GP, I was already really fed up and then going into being a GP in the UK is probably one of the most stressful jobs.

“People have this perception that GPs are lazy and don’t do anything but that’s really not the case at all. The system’s letting everybody down.

“When you’re going through your training, there’s always supposed to be a certain amount of people on that rota. For example, you’re supposed to have 20 doctors covering the rota.

“I did a rotation through A&E, turned up on the day and the consultant that was in charge said ‘we’ve not got 20 doctors to cover this rota, we’ve only got 13’. He then said ‘it just means you guys are going to have to work a bit harder’.

“The intensity of the work isn’t sustainable.

“You’d be supposed to finish your shift at 5pm but you’d end up hanging back until 6pm or 7pm, doing paperwork that you should have been doing during the day but just didn’t have any time.

“I think I was pretty lucky that I became aware I was burning out. I came home from work with a throbbing headache. I was coming home and going straight to bed.

“I was snapping with my family. I just wasn’t very happy anymore and people were starting to notice it. I’ve always been a very happy-go-lucky person so when I noticed my personality was changing, I knew I couldn’t ‘t do it for the rest of my life.

“It was affecting my mental health, it was an accumulation of years and years.”

Finally in 2016, Michael claims he handed in his notice after being left feeling like ‘canon fodder’ – unable to do his job properly due to the high pressure and mountains of paperwork.

More than five years on, he is enjoying a healthy work life balance – after years of being ‘thinly spread’.

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Michael said: “I felt like cannon fodder. I handed in my notice after I realized I couldn’t do my job properly with the pressure, the time restraints and paperwork and that I couldn’t ever see this changing as an NHS GP.

“My mental health was suffering and I was on the brink of completely burning out.

“The work-life balance here is a big thing. Firstly, they have enough staff. There’s enough staff to cover the rotas. That means that if you’re taking a day off or you need cover, it’s quite easy to organize.

“In the UK, you’re so thinly spread that it’s not possible.

“They’re big on finishing as close as possible to the time you are supposed to finish.

“Here, if I finish seeing patients until 5pm, I’ll be going home by about 5.15pm. In the UK, I’d be hanging on until at least 6pm to finish everything.

“The culture is you take regular days off, regular holidays, and the workforce is there to allow that.

“The patients respect you more as a doctor. When I worked for the NHS, I had people shouting at me saying ‘we pay your wages’.

“I feel more respected, not only from patients but from the staff too.

“It sounds silly but on a daily basis when you’re being told you’re not any good and being told by the government that you’re not working hard enough or offering enough appointments, it adds up. You get this accumulated stress and fatigue.

“Here they want you to be healthy, you’re a healthcare worker and they want you to be healthy for a long time.

“They make sure you’re not working hours and hours late every day.

“I’m a hardworking person but sometimes hard work isn’t enough to keep your head above the water.”

NHS England and NHS Scotland were contacted for comment.

The Department of Health and Social Care declined to comment.




www.dailyrecord.co.uk

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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