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Doctors may be delaying seeking psychological support

The Medical Director of the Practitioner Health Matters Programme (PHMP) has said while the service has not seen a surge in presentations during the pandemic, many doctors could be postponing seeking support due to their current workload.

The PHMP’s annual report for 2019, which was recently published, stated the service recorded its highest number of new cases last year (77) since its establishment in 2015.

Dr Íde Delargy

“But what we believe is happening there, is that people are completely focused on just getting through, getting the job done, giving 100 per cent to the task in hand. What we suspect is that when things settle down, when things die down, that’s when we will see maybe a surge in demand at that point.”

Dr Delargy also believes that the additional wellbeing supports put in place by the HSE, and training bodies, during the first wave of the pandemic could be a reason why the PHMP was not overwhelmed. “It could be that some practitioners took advantage of that. But we don’t know yet if that was the case,” she said.

In its fourth annual report, the PHMP stated 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.

Anxiety was the most common issue (34 per cent of all presentations) followed by burnout/stress (14 per cent) and depression (13 per cent).

As a result of the increase in presentations, Dr Delargy said there are plans to recruit more clinicians to the service.

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