Quarter of doctors seek mental health support during pandemic

More than one in four medics have sought mental health support during the Covid-19 pandemic, leading doctors have said.

The Royal College of Physicians (RCP) said that it was “extremely concerned” about the mental health of frontline doctors.

A new poll by the college of its members found 19% said they have sought informal mental health support during the pandemic, while 10% said they had sought formal support.

The RCP said that medics have been working for almost a year under extremely challenging circumstances.

Almost two thirds (64%) of the 1,890 doctors who responded to the RCP poll said they were tired or exhausted.

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And nearly half (48%) said they feel “worried”.

The medics were also quizzed about the current situation on the ground.

More than half (56%) were very concerned about the impact of rising Covid-19 admissions on their organisation’s capacity to deliver safe and effective care.

RCP president Professor Andrew Goddard said: “There is no way to dress it up – it is pretty awful at the moment in the world of medicine.

“Hospital admissions are at the highest ever level, staff are exhausted, and although there is light at the end of the tunnel, that light seems a long way away.

“I am extremely concerned about the mental health of frontline doctors, who may be suffering from burnout and a feeling of not being valued.

“Doctors have demonstrated remarkable resilience throughout the pandemic, working under the most challenging conditions the NHS has ever faced, but they can’t continue working this way forever.

“Workforce shortages need to be urgently addressed post-pandemic if we’re ever to reduce the immense pressure on NHS staff and ensure that they are prepared and supported to get the NHS back on an even keel.”

Commenting on the findings, Saffron Cordery, deputy chief executive of NHS Providers, said: “The NHS workforce has come under relentless physical, psychological and emotional pressure during the pandemic.

“It is essential that the next publication of the People Plan outlines national support for NHS staff through a sustained and coordinated approach to mental health and wellbeing.”

Rebecca Smith, managing director of NHS Employers, which is part of the NHS Confederation, added: “The dedication and commitment of all NHS staff to keep going during this Covid emergency should not be understated, but this way of working is clearly unsustainable, and an honest conversation will be needed about how quickly the NHS can spring back once this peak subsides.”

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