We are in a critical period in our country’s history. The UK has recently been gripped by an unprecedented scale of strikes and demonstrations by junior doctors. Naturally, this reflects a state of discontent amongst the medical profession, with many feeling undervalued and unrepresented. Ultimately, tired staff working unsociable hours could compromise patient care. On top of this, what about a doctor’s welfare? What indeed will become of the European Working Time Directive (EWTD), following the UK’s secession from the EU? It is perhaps unsurprising that our profession is associated with high rates of burn-out.
Our article takes you to the year 2026: a time where there exists the concept of Doctor’s Protected Mealtime (DPM). This refers to an hour during the working day where doctors are free to partake in a leisure activity of their choice – on top of lunch, if they wish. Some may choose to learn a musical instrument, others yoga. Some may enact a renaissance of pursuing past hobbies, which were sacrificed to the rigors of medicine. Indeed, the list is endless and limited only by the individual’s imagination. We acknowledge that patient care should always be the utmost priority. Hence, doctors on-call would be exempt from DPM, for example. We also consider whether DPM may lead to some loss of professional duties and miscommunication between healthcare professionals. While our idea may appear to be in the realms of fantasy, our aim is not to discuss its logistics. It is instead to stimulate discussion on doctors’ welfare. Medicine embodies a noble pursuit, but one where there may be little respite from its demands. DPM is merely one possible idea that could safeguard the welfare of both current and future medical professionals.