Supporting Doctors with Mental Illness
Written by Montrose Bill, Specialist Indemnity Insurance Adviser
Being a GP has always meant coping with a significant amount of stress and pressure, and as primary care extends its scope of services in line with NHS England’s General Practice Forward View, things are getting no easier.
Small wonder therefore that occasionally the stress and pressure gets too much and a GP needs to seek care in respect of mental health or addiction services.
This of course is where the NHS Practitioner Health Programme (PHP) can help. As a confidential, NHS treatment service for doctors who are unable to access confidential care through mainstream NHS routes due to the nature of their role and/or health condition, PHP is able to bridge that gap and offer confidential treatment and assistance.
As reported by GPOnline, figures from the service up to the end of November 2017 showed that 981 GPs self-referred themselves to the GP Health Service to aid their experience of stress or burnout following its launch on the 30th January 2017.
These startling figures cover a period of just over 300 days, meaning that more than three GPs contacted the service every day on average.
The GP Health Service identified four common themes as to why GPs were likely to come to the service for help, including:
- Practice meltdown
- CQC inspections and receiving an official complaint
- Continued periods of struggling with their mental wellbeing or experiencing depression
- Younger GPs were also seeking support after feeling a sense of ‘too much, too soon’ – where the stresses of workload and pressures of the system affect their mental wellbeing
It is important to look after your own wellbeing not only for yourself, but also for your patients as sometimes other problems can arise as a consequence of a GP’s condition, resulting, for example, in performance issues or possibly sanctions.
Should this occur the practitioner may well find he or she has difficulty obtaining indemnity cover from the medical defence organisations (MDOs) without which they are unable to return to practice.
As a specialist healthcare insurance broker, MIAB has taken steps to be able to offer indemnity cover to such GPs, enabling them to return to general practice.
Moreover, cover has been arranged in such a way as to enable premiums to be reduced over time, in line with performance reassessment, resulting in affordable ongoing premiums or alternatively a move back to an MDO if desired.
It is hoped that by supporting PHP in this way hundreds of GPs may be successfully rehabilitated to the benefit of primary care and its patients alike.