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Jamie Hailstone is a freelance journalist and author, who has also contributed to numerous national business titles including Utility Week, the Municipal Journal, Environment Journal and consumer titles such as Classic Rock.

September 4, 2018

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Mental Illness

Doctors at ‘incredibly high risk’ of mental illness

A senior figure in the NHS has warned that doctors are at an ‘incredibly high risk’ of mental illness.

doctorSpeaking on BBC1’s Victoria Derbyshire programme yesterday (3 September), the Medical Director of the NHS Practitioner Health Programme (PHP), Dr Clare Gerada also said female doctors have up to four times the risk of suicide in comparison to people in the general population.

Dr Gerada added that mental health is “the last taboo in the NHS”.

The programme looked at the growing issue of mental health among doctors and NHS staff and quoted figures from the Office for National Statistics, which showed that between 2011 and 2015, 430 health professionals in England took their own lives.

The NHS Practitioner Health Programme (PHP), is currently the only confidential service that offers doctors a range of assessments and treatments for mental health problems.

But doctors can only self-refer to the PHP, without the need to tell their Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), if they work in London.

Others can access the service, but in telling their CCG they consequently lose their anonymity.

In July, SHP Online reported that nearly a quarter of trainee doctors say their work makes them feel ‘burnt out’, according to a General Medical Council (GMC) survey.

Almost half of trainees reported regularly working beyond their rostered hours, and around one in five say they often feel short of sleep while at work.

An NHS England spokesperson said: “NHS England launched the NHS GP Health service in 2017, a world first, nationally-funded confidential service which specialises in supporting GPs and trainee GPs experiencing mental ill health and which has already helped more than 1,500 GPs.

“NHS Trusts and Clinical Commissioning Groups, may offer additional support for professionals in their area, for example CCGs in London have commissioned the NHS Practitioner Health Programme for their staff.”

To full report from the Victoria Derbyshire programme is available here.

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