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UK Physician Health Summit 2017

Dr Clare GeradaDr Clare Gerada

Chaired by Dr Clare Gerada, Medical Director, NHS Practitioner Health Programme the UK Physician Health Summit 2017 brings together learning and experience in delivering care and support to doctors who have become unwell, ensuring they can remain in or return to safe, effective clinical practice wherever possible. 

The NHS Practitioner Health Programme is a confidential NHS service for Doctors and Dentists with Mental Health and Addiction issues, the team will support you to recognise and understand the situations you might find yourself in and the approaches you can use to address these. By attending the event you will benefit from an increased understanding of; the issues facing doctors who are unwell, how to spot signs of ill health, the best strategies to support and treat doctors, how to reduce and prevent ill health in the medical workforce, and how to support doctors returning to work.

Dr Clare Gerada opens the conference discussing the importance of helping sick doctors and what is happening nationally including work with the royal colleges on suicide prevention and the GMC on supporting doctors with drug and alcohol problems. Clare introduced the New GP Health service and the work that has been done to support doctors with bipolar disorder return to work. On the need to support sick doctors Clare said; "GPs are in the insidious position of being the saviours and scapegoats of the NHS and this puts a psychological toll on the profession." 

Introduction of the New National Mental Health Service for GPs
Lucy Warner, Chief Executive, NHS Practitioner Health Programme

The new NHS GP Health Service provides confidential mental health support for GPs and GP trainees suffering from mental ill-health and addiction. The free and confidential service takes self-referrals and is provided through a regional network of experienced clinicians and therapists across 13 areas in England, who will deliver support for a range of conditions including: 

• Common and more complex mental health conditions 
• Mental health conditions relating to physical health 
• Substance misuse including support for community detoxification 
• Rehabilitation and support to return to work after a period of mental ill-health. 

The service has been developed by NHS England and others, including the BMA’s General Practitioner Committee, Health Education England, the RCGP and the GMC in response to calls from the profession for greater support. The new service is run by the Hurley Clinic Partnership who currently provide the London-based NHS Practitioner Health Programme (PHP). Read more here

The Case for Change
Louisa Dallmeyer BA, CPFA, Commissioner, Office of London CCGs

Pre-Event Abstract
The Practitioner Health Programme was developed in 2008 by the Department of Health and the National Clinical Assessment Service.  It was developed in response to growing evidence that a significant number of doctors and dentists did not seek help for certain conditions due to perceptions of stigma and lack of confidentiality.  A prototype service was developed in London with the intention to expand it nation-wide, if the case for investment was proven.  The prototype provided a confidential service for doctors and dentists in London who had mental health or addiction issues.  The service was, and continues to be successful in terms of outcomes for patients and value for money.  Eight years later, a similar service, the GP Health Service has recently been commissioned by NHS England for all GPs in England.  This presentation will explore if these services  are value for money and if they are, who should pay for them?

Dealing with Addiction
Jane Marshall, Consultant Psychiatrist, South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust and Clinician, NHS Practitioner Health Programme

Pre-Event Abstract
The prevalence of alcohol problems in doctors is no higher than in the population as a whole, whereas higher rates of prescription drug use are recognised as an occupational hazard. This practice of self-treatment with controlled drugs is a ‘unique concern’ for doctors.

The development of substance misuse problems in doctors is multi-factorial. Anxiety and depression, work-related and family stress, physical health problems, personality difficulties, pain and a non-specific drift into drinking have all been implicated. Early diagnosis is critical because doctors are often reluctant to seek help and colleagues are reluctant to intervene.

Medical schools and continuing medical education programmes must give greater emphasis to addiction and substance misuse in doctors with a view to reducing the incidence of ‘impaired physicians’ and promoting and encouraging early treatment and rehabilitation.

Full PowerPoint Presentation

MASTERCLASS 4: Thorny Issues: Performance & Regulation
Andrew Long, Consultant, Great Ormond Street Hospital

Pre-Event Abstract
This workshop will rely on delegate participation to enable discussion of the impact of regulation on the performance of doctors and their physical and mental health. As a current Responsible Officer and previous Head of School for paediatric training, the facilitator will use his experience and understanding of the issues that cause difficulty in training through to career progression. Recognition of the individual stresses and challenges of working within healthcare services will hopefully facilitate group discussion and look at both the emotional responses as well as organisational pressures that can either support or hinder professional development. As much as possible, this workshop will rely on ‘Chatham House rules’ ( to engender free-flowing discussion and the ability to share experiences.

How mental health issues can cause financial hardship
David Harris, The Cameron Fund

David discussed how The Cameron Fund helps support doctors with poor mental health with the consequential financial difficulties they may be facing by helping them to manage their situation and return to practice. 

Full PowerPoint Presentation

Surviving Work
Dr Elizabeth Cotton, Founding Director, Surviving Work

Pre-Event Abstract: ​Surviving Work in Healthcare

This session will look at the experience of healthcare workers in managing working life in the context of crisis and change. Taking the experience of different professional groups and organisations, Dr Elizabeth Cotton will make a proposal about the politics, processes and practices that health workers are able to use to survive work and to deliver care. This proposal rests on walking the line between coping and hoping, setting and holding the ethical battle lines and building relations with the people around us. This session does not offer any magic solutions to the systemic failings in healthcare, but it does offer the experience of the people who are really surviving working in healthcare.

Full PowerPoint Presentation

Mindful Medics Programme with Mindfulness Techniques
Reena Koetcha, Medical Director & Mindfulness Meditation/Pranayama, Mindful Medics

Pre-Event Abstract
Stress accounts for a significant proportion of work related ill health cases and working days lost in the NHS. There’s an inherent irony or paradox that here is a sector that’s charged with promoting the health and wellbeing of the population but is damaging the health and wellbeing of staff in the process 1. Staff ill-health and related absence is linked to an increased risk of unsafe care, worse experiences of care for patients and poorer outcomes 2

It can be difficult to strike a work life balance in this current climate. Having experienced the positive mental and physical effects of mindfulness meditation and related personal development enhancing practices first hand, Dr Kotecha has developed ‘Mindful Medics’; a programme designed to improve the health and wellbeing of all healthcare professionals.

The programme is currently being offered to a group at Milton Keynes University Hospital NHS Trust. The feedback is promising, and here are the thoughts of a current healthcare professional undergoing the course:

‘I am so grateful to Reena and the NHS for affording me the opportunity to attend this course, it has been informative and enjoyable. The topics discussed have motivated me to think differently. I have practiced the tasks shown to me and can honestly say they have helped lift my mood and change my outlook, making me start to enjoy life again…I would say that this is a new way of thinking, and some people will not take to it, however I would urge anyone and everyone to give it a try… If this course is available to other colleagues, I feel it would have a huge benefit on their health and wellbeing, and potentially reduce sickness levels. This would then impact positively on the NHS as a whole’.

1)Michael West (Head of Thought Leadership, The King’s Fund)
2) Boorman, 2009

Full PowerPoint Presentation

Future events of interest:

Managing Doctors in Difficulty and Difficult Doctors
Monday 8 May 
DeVere West One Conference Centre, London

Improving Mental Health Crisis Care
Friday 28 April 2017 
De Vere West One Conference Centre, London

Leading Effective Integration: Free Breakfast Masterclass
Monday 15 May 
De Vere West One Conference Centre, London


29 March 2017


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