For immediate release: Monday, 16 May 2016
UK-wide medical defence organisation MDDUS fully supports the Royal Medical Benevolent Fund’s (RMBF) campaign to raise awareness and help doctors with physical and mental health problems.
MDDUS Joint Head of Medical Division Dr John Holden joined a panel of experts including Professor Parveen Kumar and Professor Maureen Baker for a roundtable debate exploring ways of supporting doctors suffering from stress and burnout. The RMBF event was held at the Royal College of Physicians and sponsored by MDDUS.
Dr Holden said: “Some doctors find it difficult to face up to their own health problems and we welcome the opportunity to work with the RMBF and fully support their work in raising awareness and highlighting the importance of care and support that is available.
“At MDDUS, we have encountered a growing number of cases involving doctors who have been subject to complaints or fitness to practise proceedings relating to mistakes or actions as a result of their health problems.”
MDDUS welcomes the GMC proposals to make its fitness to practise process more sensitive to the needs of vulnerable doctors. We are also supportive of NHS England’s pledge to spend an additional £16 million on specialist mental health services in a bid to reduce stress levels and to improve GP retention.
“Doctors are renowned for being resilient and a rise in the volume and complexity of workload means their job had never been more demanding,” said Dr Holden. “While doctors are caring for patients, they can sometimes neglect to care for themselves. From our experience, seeking help early can make all the difference for those who face these problems.
“Mental health issues can come in many guises – from anxiety, irritability and fatigue to depression, emotional exhaustion and withdrawal. Burnout or stress can affect a doctor’s judgment, concentration and productivity. All of which can lead to mistakes in dealing with patient care.
“Speaking to a colleague or their own GP about these issues should not be seen as a sign of weakness. Doctors who are concerned about a colleague’s wellbeing are advised to be sensitive and encourage them to seek help.”
A recent survey by the RMBF found that over 80 per cent of doctors know of other doctors experiencing mental health issues such as depression and anxiety. The survey also revealed that 84 per cent of doctors are unlikely to reach out for fear of discrimination or stigma from colleagues.
As part of their campaign ‘What’s Up Doc?’, The RMBF has developed a free online guide for doctors called The Vital Signs which highlights common stressful trigger points for doctors, as well as signposting help and advice.
Steve Crone, RMBF’s Chief Executive, said: “We are delighted that MDDUS supported our RMBF roundtable event as part of the ‘What’s Up Doc?’ campaign, raising awareness of the need to offer vital support to doctors and their dependents. 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. We would like even more people to know we are here to offer confidential help.”
For further information contact Richard Hendry on 0845 270 2034 or 07976 272266, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Note to editors
MDDUS (The Medical and Dental Defence Union of Scotland) is a medical and dental defence organisation providing access to professional indemnity and expert medico- and dento-legal advice for doctors, dentists and other healthcare professionals throughout the UK.
For further information on MDDUS go to www.mddus.com
The Royal Medical Benevolent Fund (RMBF) is the UK charity helping doctors, medical students and their families in times of crisis. The charity provides financial support, money advice and information when it is most needed due to age, ill health, disability or bereavement. This help includes grants and loans as well as a telephone befriending scheme for those who may be isolated and in need of support. The RMBF boasts a 250+ strong volunteer network across the UK. The charity, which has been helping doctors for 180 years, doesn’t receive any government funding and is solely supported by its fundraising efforts.