Holding Hands: Making a Difference to Junior Doctor Wellbeing Together

Holding Hands: Making a Difference to Junior Doctor Wellbeing Together

Key contacts

Magali Dubus (magali.dubus@nhs.net), Olatokunbo Sanwo (olatokunbo.sanwo@nhs.net) & Shaveta Mulla (shaveta.mulla1@nhs.net).


Burn out is well documented among junior doctors, leading to physical and mental health issues. This contributes to long-term sickness from work, people choosing to leave medicine and most tragically some junior doctors choosing to end their lives. Various initiatives have been started to try to provide support to doctors who are struggling with professional or personal issues. Many deaneries offer counselling services and there are a number of national services that are offered free of charge such as the NHS Practitioner Health Programme [1]. As well as this online groups such as Tea and Empathy and Physician Mums Group UK (both Facebook groups) have been set up to give healthcare professionals an opportunity to access a supportive network of colleagues when times are tough. These are great resources to have available, however we felt there was a gap in support provided locally. Our aim was to start a face-to-face group for paediatric and neonatal junior doctors, with bleep free time (and a slice of cake), where there would be an open and supportive environment to discuss clinical and non- clinical problems and tricky situations people have found themselves in. The idea is that this would allow discussion between different trainees and a chance for everyone to put their heads together to come up with solutions for problems and also to provide support and a listening ear when it is needed. As well as this we thought it would be a great platform to celebrate how hard everyone works and to also use to meeting to discuss positive events that happened over the previous month. Holding Hands was born from this idea and continues to evolve to meet our aims with feedback from each meeting. 

SMART objectives

  1. To facilitate a safe and open environment for paediatric and neonatal junior doctors to discuss challenging situations (both clinical and non-clinical) in monthly bleep-free meetings.
  2. To provide a platform to promote excellence in the workplace and to encourage positive feedback to junior doctors within our meetings.
  3. To facilitate both sharing of potential solutions to issues between junior doctors and signposting to other support services when appropriate.

Progress made: What have you learned from doing this?

This has been a particularly wonderful project to be part of because of the unexpected tide of support both from consultants and from the junior doctors attending who have really positively contributed and made the sessions work in the interactive way in which they were planned to. This project is still in its infancy but we are collecting data on burnout experienced by junior doctors at the beginning of this project and will collect more towards the end of this current rotation to assess the impact these groups have.

What’s your take home message?

To be able to provide the excellent levels of care we want to provide to children and young people, we have a responsibility to look after the wellbeing of both ourselves and our colleagues. This initiative allows protected time and a structured platform for doing this.


[1] http://php.nhs.uk