Intended for healthcare professionals


Helping sick doctors

BMJ 1996; 312 doi: (Published 23 March 1996) Cite this as: BMJ 1996;312:722
  1. Ruth Chambers,
  2. Richard Maxwell
  1. Royal College of General Practitioners/Department of Health GP Stress Fellows c/o Centre for Primary Health Care, Keele University, Stoke Health Centre, Honeywall, Stoke-on-Trent ST4 7JB

    Fix the job, not the doctors

    Practising medicine can seriously damage your health. But despite mounting recognition of this fact,1 2 3 4 5 help for sick doctors in Britain remains inadequate and patchy.1 Other countries do better. Canada was among the first to acknowledge the constraints that stop doctors from seeking help for themselves, setting up a confidential help service in 1987,2 and in 1994 Norway invested $1.3 million in programmes to improve physicians' health and working conditions.6 Is Britain now ready to show a reciprocal duty of care to those who care for its members?

    The National Counselling Service for Sick Doctors in Britain (national contact phone number 0171 935 5982) has greatly raised awareness of the problems of sick doctors, but the impact of the service, manned by volunteer physician counsellors and advisers, has been limited by a lack of adequate funds and specific training. Other schemes include the …

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