Mental health scheme for doctors and dentists extended

A SCHEME providing 24/7 mental health support to NHS doctors and dentists has been rolled out across England.

The NHS Practitioner Health programme offers a dedicated phoneline and a crisis text service available through the night. A team of 200 experts are on hand to provide more than 180,000 doctors and dentists with confidential advice and support.

Previously, the scheme was available to practitioners in the London area but NHS England chief executive Simon Stevens announced additional funding in October 2018 to extend the service nationally.

Clinicians are encouraged to seek help if they’ve faced a stressful incident at work or feel they are struggling with their mental health. Those who contact the service are given a link to an app where they can book appointments with a clinician of their choice. After being assessed, the patient can continue to be seen by their lead clinician who can prescribe medication, support them while off work, and follow up as appropriate. They will also have access to a range of individual and group therapies.

Feedback from those who piloted the programme has been positive. Eighty-eight per cent said the service had a positive impact on their wellbeing while 85 per cent said it had a positive impact on their ability to work or train.

Health secretary Matt Hancock said: “We owe it to staff to provide the mental and physical health support they need to deliver consistently high-quality care for patients.”

Medical director of NHS Practitioner Health Dr Clare Gerada added: “No doctor or dentist need shy away from seeking help. They can be assured of the same levels of confidentiality we would afford members of the public who access care, and the stigma and barriers to seeking help through mainstream NHS services have been removed.

NHS Practitioner Health

To sign up, call 0300 0303 300 or email prac.health@nhs.net. The line is open Monday to Friday 8am to 8pm and Saturday 8am to 2pm. Text NHSPH to 85258 for the out-of-hours crisis text service.