Whilst there are very few reports about the prevalence of mental ill health within the NHS, we do know that doctors, nurses and many others in the healthcare profession face mental health risk factors, both occupational and individual.

Specialist services developed specifically for interventions for doctors with mental health problems tend to show promising results, but lack of anonymity prevents many from seeking the help they need.

A very recent paper published in JAMA Intern Med. said:

This meta-analysis provides evidence that physician burnout may jeopardise patient care; reversal of this risk has to be viewed as fundamental health policy goal across the globe. Healthcare organisations are encouraged to invest in efforts to improve physician wellness, particularly for early career physicians.

Nurses suffer from increasing stress in their role. During the period 2011 to 2015, the risk of suicide among female health professionals was 24% higher than the female national average; largely explained by high suicide risk among female nurses. A study by Gao in 2017 concluded that strategies to increase nurses’ general well‐being could enhance their resilience and reduce mental health problems.

Mental wellbeing is dynamic, but it is possible to maintain stable mental wellbeing by improving emotional resilience; enhancing the ability to bounce back and capacity to adapt in the face of challenging circumstances. There are new approaches for improving mental health by increasing creativity, resilience, flexibility and coherence both personally and professionally and by developing skills and strategies for reducing and preventing stress and burnout.

GPFV has implemented plans to support the development of non-clinical practice staff as they recognise the need to reduce pressure on clinicians. Statistics show that GP hours are saved by the transfer of administrative tasks to other primary care roles. If we consider the occupational and personal benefit – or the return on investment – it must make sense to provide similar support, within practices, for resilience and wellbeing, improving individuals’ ability to cope, enhancing confidence, self-esteem and morale across the board.

To quote Jenny Firth-Cozens (BMJ 2003),

Stress is here to stay and the sooner we accept that tackling it is a normal part of management, and an essential part of patient safety, the sooner the lives of doctors and their patients will improve.

The PMA provide Resilience and Wellbeing workshops for practice staff and clinicians. They are delivered locally to NHS practices. If you would like more information, please contact us enquiries@practicemanagersuk.org

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