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22.03.16

Over 80% of doctors know colleagues suffering from mental health problems

Mental health problems such as depression and anxiety are widespread problems among doctors, with 82% knowing of colleagues affected by them, according to a new survey.

The survey of hospital doctors, GPs, consultants and supporters, from charity the Royal Medical Benevolent Fund (RMBF), also found that doctors suffering from mental health problems are unlikely to receive the help they need, with 84% saying they were unlikely to reach out for fear of discrimination or stigma from colleagues.

Two-thirds also said colleagues were inhibited from seeking help by ‘high achieving’ personality traits, and 66% saying the NHS provides a poor level of support to doctors and their families.

The RMBF’s new campaign, ‘What’s Up, Doc?’, aims to raise awareness of the need to support doctors in the UK.

Steve Crone, RMBF’s chief executive, said: “We are hoping that our new ‘What’s Up Doc?’ campaign will raise awareness of the need to offer vital support to doctors and their dependents.

“After all, these are the professionals who work tirelessly to support us in our times of need. I would urge any doctor in difficulty to reach out – no one should feel too proud or ashamed to ask for help. Every year the RMBF supports hundreds of doctors and their families who are struggling with financial concerns, ill health or addiction, through no fault of their own. We would like even more people to know we are here to offer confidential help.”

The survey found that doctors are under stress from a number of sources, with 80% saying patient caseloads were a key factor, 80% blaming increased scrutiny from CQC inspections and the threat of revalidation, and 76% blaming working hours.

The latest NHS staff survey found that 37% of NHS staff reported feeling unwell due to work-related stress in the past year.

When asked about their personal relationships, 73% of doctors surveyed knew of other doctors experiencing family and marital problems, over 90% believed their working hours put personal relationships under pressure, and 78% believe doctors are too busy looking after others to look after themselves.

The RMBF has released a new guide, The Vital Signs, which highlights key pressure trigger points for doctors and signposts organisations and support networks for those in need of help and advice.

The Public Accounts Committee said in a recent report that the government must set out plans to tackle the GP staffing gap by the end of the year.

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