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HSE now developing doctors’ health strategy

The HSE’s Workplace Health and Wellbeing Unit has been tasked with developing a strategy for “doctors’ health and wellbeing”, according to a spokesperson.

The spokesperson said this process commenced in Q1 2017. It involves a core working group, while a number of “working parties” have been established. “Each working party is exploring the challenges and opportunities to optimise health and wellbeing for doctors throughout their working lives, from medical school to retirement.”

The Healthy Doctors Strategy Group includes representation “from all stakeholders, including medical schools, professional bodies, regulatory bodies, service providers and unions”, according to the HSE.

A report and recommendations will be available by the end of June 2017. Similar strategies are planned for other healthcare professionals later this year. The Workplace Health and Wellbeing Unit was set up within the Health Services People Strategy 2015-2018, as part of Priority 2 (Staff Engagement). Clinical Lead is Dr Lynda Sisson, a specialist in occupational medicine.

Key work areas for the unit include “comprehensive and streamlined supports” for employees in the health service; development of standards for occupational health services; providing a safe working environment; standardisation of counselling services and approaches for staff needing support, including resilience programmes and the Critical Incident Stress Management Programme; and promoting positive health and wellbeing for all staff.

Separately, data released by the IMO on International Women’s Day (8 March) has shown that 11 per cent of respondent female doctors and 5 per cent of respondent male doctors reported being victims of sexual harassment at work during the previous two years.

The IMO’s survey on Gender Issues in Irish Medicine also found that 84 per cent of respondent female doctors stated that existing workplace supports did not adequately provide an opportunity to balance medical workload with their family commitments.

The full data will be published later this year.

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