Suicide rates among doctors are rising fast. And female doctors are up to four times the risk of suicide compared with the general public.
Dr. Clare Gerada – NHS Practitioner Health Programme (PHP)
Dr. Gerada described doctor’s mental health problems as the ‘last taboo in the NHS’. And she highlighted the negative effect effect public complaints can have on doctors’ esteem.
Dr. Gerada said PHP was the only confidential service offering doctors a range of assessments and treatments for mental health problems. She also pointed out that doctors can only self-refer, and therefore maintain confidentiality, if they work in London. Two thirds of the 5,000 doctors helped by PHP in the last decade were women.
She added, “Doctors are sometimes patients too and supporting vulnerable doctors is a shared responsibility. ”
Dr. Mark Porter – BMA Chair
It is also noted that doctors face additional stress if they face a ‘fitness to practice’ investigation.
Dr. Porter acknowledged that, stating, “Doctor’s 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 to practice’ are fully supported.”