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Concerns over impact of pandemic on health practitioners’ mental health

The new annual report from the Practitioner Health Matters Programme (PHMP), shows that the programme dealt with 77 new cases in 2019, a 3 per cent increase on the previous year.

The PHMP provides confidential treatment services for health professionals who have mental health or addiction issues.

The figures cover a period that predates the pandemic, and the PHMP Medical Director Dr Íde Delargy voiced concerns over the impact Covid-19 may have had this year.

In its fourth annual report the PHMP reported that NCHDs, consultants and GPs made up 57 (or 74 per cent) of new referrals to the programme which is open to doctors, dentists and pharmacists.

“Last year saw the highest number of practitioners presenting to the Programme, and we expect presentations to rise due to Covid-19 because health practitioners have never had to work under this kind of strain before,” said Dr Íde Delargy.

“Everyone is working flat out to get through this pandemic, and it is only when the dust settles that people will properly be able to process what they have been through. It is crucial that doctors, dentists and pharmacists access help if they are feeling overwhelmed.”

Dr. Delargy said that health practitioners faced an unprecedented environment at present. “We have significant concerns about the impact of the virus on practitioners’ mental health, including anxiety, stress and depression.”

Despite the increase in overall numbers presenting to the programme in 2019, there was a significant fall in the number of dentists availing of the service – from 11 to six. However, the number of pharmacists presenting increased from four to six. NCHDs represented the biggest cohort of presentations to the Programme, with 27.

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