SCOTLAND’S junior doctor workforce is “balancing on a knife-edge”, the chair of the British Medical Association’s (BMA) Scottish Junior Doctor Committee (SJDC) has warned.

Dr Lailah Peel, below, says junior doctors are “exhausted, depleted, and struggling to see the light at the end of the tunnel” due to workload pressures.

It comes as the publication of the Scottish Government’s working group report on the 48-hour maximum working week approaches its one-year anniversary.

The report highlighted urgent recommendations to be made in order to improve the working lives of junior doctors – but the BMA now says there has been “very little progress” made.

The National: Dr Lailah PeelDr Lailah Peel (Image: Newsquest)

They say that despite 14 recommendations being made, just one has been implemented – a limit on the number of consecutive long shifts to a maximum of four in any seven days. A long shift is defined as being more than 10 hours.

Other guidance, such as improving rest and sleeping facilities, ensuring a minimum of half an hour of rest after approximately four hours of duty and the provision of basic education on sleep, fatigue and working nights, are all yet to be applied.

Peel said: “Make no mistake, junior doctors in Scotland are angry. We are balancing on a knife-edge right now.

“Morale is rock-bottom, we are exhausted, depleted, and struggling to see the light at the end of the tunnel.

“The workforce is buckling under the current workload pressures and I’m increasingly having conversations with colleagues about their concerns over unsafe working environments.

“Add in this year’s real-terms pay cut and you are looking at a workforce that feels extremely under-valued and I have serious concerns for the wellbeing of my colleagues.”

She said the possibility of industrial action has been raised, with feedback to a recent pay survey showing it is “clear” that junior doctors are “more prepared for potential sustained strike action than our more senior colleagues”.