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Support for Doctors
18/11/2013 Stephen Miller
Alex Wessely and Clare Gerada’s anthropological approach has many resonances with our experience of helping sick GPs and dentists in Devon and Cornwall. What a pity that all they mention is their own service in London. We have been providing support for GPs and dentists here for nearly 20 years and there are similar services in Newcastle, Leeds and Oxford as well as services for doctors in Kent , Surrey and Sussex and London ( Mednet). We would encourage other Local Area Teams to provide this sort of service as recommended 12 years ago by DH circular in May 2001 . for primary care. http://webarchive.nationalarchives.gov.uk/+/www.dh.gov.uk/en/Publicationsandstatistics/Publications/PublicationsPolicyAndGuidance/DH_4006976 Yours sincerely Dr Stephen Miller ( GP coordinator for the occupational health service for Primary care in Devon and cornwall)
 
Structural barriers to accessing healthcare
18/11/2013 Anna Donen
You mention ‘structural barriers’ as a reason for why doctors fail to seek help. I was shocked at how difficult it was for me to see a GP. It took eight weeks from moving to this area to have time to visit a GP during their working hours. One practice then told me that they had stopped taking new patients because their computer system wasn’t working, and another two wanted two proofs of address. Unfortunately none of my documents satisfied them. When I explained that I was a doctor myself, this was my one weekday off for some time, and that normally I simply couldn’t get to any practice in normal hours, I was made to feel as if I was an annoyance to the receptionists. . Fortunately, one of the practices relented and allowed me to join and, so far, has been incredibly helpful. Throughout the whole experience I felt very helpless and, quite honestly, at the mercy of bureaucratic GP receptionists.
 
Doctors' Health Education Needs
15/11/2013 Dr Jake Hard
Doctors are noted to be a 'hard to reach' group of patients. I would welcome greater emphasis on improving and promoting doctors’ self-awareness of their health within the undergraduate and post-graduate training programmes. I have seen anecdotal evidence that these barriers are being eroded as more newly qualified doctors come through but acknowledge there is still a long way to go. I am sure that most doctors have experienced periods where they have struggled as a consequence of either or both internal and external factors but fear saying anything for the reasons outlined. I am sure that most doctors will have witnessed when this is happening to a colleague and fear saying or doing anything for a host of reasons. The challenge is in bringing both of these influences into closer alignment and so improve the ''health' of the workforce as a whole and essentially foster greater 'herd immunity’, especially given the escalating demands and expectations on the profession. I acknowledge that Appraisal and Revalidation processes have a part to play in assuring the overall quality of the workforce but blind ‘health statements’ within this do not provide a logical or realistic “screen” for identifying doctors in distress. I would welcome improving the training for Appraisers in identifying health concerns but respect that this must be dovetailed with services, such as PHP, to provide access to appropriate help in a supportive and timely fashion. I would welcome the provision of a UK-wide service, such as PHP, thus extending equivalence of access for all doctors. It would be a small price to pay for such valuable resource.
 
Doctors : hypochondriacs?
15/11/2013 Marie Borovickova
Thank you for your very interesting and informative article. It is important to talk about these issues. I just wanted share my slightly opposite experience. In my medical school and even now as a junior doctor I encountered colleagues who are hyper-aware of their symptoms and signs. We read and learn about all these diseases and are aware of the subtle signs accompanying them. At the same time we are very unlikely to seek help. Interesting.