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NCHD ‘practitioner patients’ accessing specialist health service

According to the first report of the Practitioner Health Matters Programme (PHMP), covering September 2015 to December 2016, the majority of patients are doctors, particularly NCHDs (21 practitioners) and GPs (14 practitioners). In percentage terms, 49 per cent of patients are NCHDs, 30 per cent GPs, 7 per cent consultants, 6 per cent dentists and 4 per cent pharmacists. Nurses and medical students each represent 2 per cent.

The PHMP is an independent, confidential service that provides support and medical care for practitioners suffering stress and mental health difficulties, or who may have an alcohol or drug misuse problem. To date, almost half of all referrals have been self-referred, but referrals have also been made by colleagues, training bodies and regulators.

In one of the report’s case studies — which changed some details to avoid identification — a young practitioner was referred by her Programme Director. The doctor was feeling “very anxious, dejected and worthless” following a complaint made to the Medical Council arising from an adverse event.

While it appeared unlikely that the doctor would be found in any way at fault, she found herself “ruminating about the event, could not sleep and was becoming increasingly stressed and distracted. A short period of time off work to rest and recover was recommended. A number of consultations were offered, which provided a safe, confidential space for the practitioner to discuss the issues…She is back working, healthy and well, but remains under review.”

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