Friday, 19 December 2014

Doctors under stress

A recent survey conducted by Pulse magazine found that four in 10 GPs have taken or expect to take time off from work as a result of increased workloads. 12 per cent had taken time off in the past 12 months, with 29 per cent reporting that they thought they would probably need time off in the next 12 months. 

Today the General Medical Council publishes a report on Doctors who commit suicide while under GMC fitness to practice investigations. 

Responding to today’s [Friday] report from the General Medical Council (GMC), BMA council chair, Dr Mark Porter, said:

“Doctors’ first priority is their patients' care, but we must not forget that they can face the same physical and mental health issues as everyone else, and it is vital that vulnerable doctors undergoing fitness for practice investigations are fully supported."

Previous GMC research revealed doctors’ views of the investigation process and it is clear that more needs to be done to understand the wider implications on doctors’ mental health, and the care they feel able to deliver.

Many doctors are already facing high levels of stress, with one survey of GPs showing that four in 10 are facing burnout, and a recent BMA survey highlighted how morale is plummeting at a time when workloads are becoming increasingly unmanageable. None of this is good news for patients or the NHS in general. The BMA has warned of the NHS at breaking point. 

As Dr Mark Porter says

“It is in the interests of both doctors and patients that, where appropriate, concerns can be raised and that these are thoroughly investigated. But this process must be fair and offer adequate protection to ensure the system itself does not cause harm.

“The BMA provides counselling and support services for all doctors but believes more must be done to help vulnerable doctors who find themselves going through what can be a prolonged and arduous process.

“We are pleased that the GMC has acknowledged this and is putting in place measures to provide the right support.”

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