The high number of doctors without a GP is especially concerning given the threat posed to wellbeing during the Covid-19 pandemic, the Medical Council President told the Medical Professionalism Conference hosted by the RCSI.
Dr Suzanne Crowe said “the proportion of doctors who are not signed up to a GP remains worryingly high”.
“We would encourage every doctor, if they have their own health concerns, to discuss it with their family doctor. If you don’t have a GP, please sign up with one today,” said Dr Crowe.
Doctors experiencing mental health or substance misuse issues can also contact the Practitioner Health Matters Programme, “which is completely independent of the Medical Council.” The Council’s health committee also provides “confidential and independent support for doctors”.
Dr Crowe added that the Council had recently produced a guide on doctor wellbeing because the issue had “been of such concern” since the emergence of Covid-19 over two years ago.
She warned that “particularly when you are working in a healthcare system that’s under siege, it’s very easy to just run yourself into the ground.”
“We encourage doctors to consider their own mental health and to take steps to refresh and refill the vessel. Because there is no doubt if you continue to just give to your patients and your family, there will not be anything left for yourself.”
On the issue of patient safety, Dr Crowe said the Council fully acknowledged that “doctors are working in a health service, which is not resourced to what we would like it to be”.
She said that “we would like doctors to maintain a culture of patient safety, but we acknowledge that this is often very challenging”.
“So speak to those around you, within the hospital, within your clinic, and let them know about the kind of resources you need,” said Dr Crowe. “I know this is exhausting to advocate and petition all the time, but it is how we will grow our health service.”