Medicopolitical Digest

Doctors who misuse alcohol need more supportEnglish health authorities must reduce costsPatients' voices must be heard in researchAccess to the specialist register amendedThere are doubts about merit awards for GPsGPs' leader warns of rationing in general practiceReview body report 1998Medical academics criticise research assessment exerciseGPs given guidance on section 36 payments

BMJ 1998; 316 doi: (Published 07 February 1998) Cite this as: BMJ 1998;316:480
  1. Linda Beecham, Medicopolitical digest is prepared by

    Doctors who misuse alcohol need more support

    A new report on the misuse of alcohol and other drugs by doctors recognises that the public is concerned about the issue of doctors' impairment and says that the profession must respond by monitoring progress and modifying policies.

    The report, The Misuse of Alcohol and Other Drugs by Doctors, was produced by a working party, which included representatives of the BMA, the General Medical Council, the Medical Defence Union, the Medical Protection Society, the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges, the Medical Council on Alcoholism, and the Society of Occupational Medicine.

    The report says that two thirds of all cases referred to the GMC health procedures involve the misuse of alcohol and other drugs and it estimates that one in 15 doctors in Britain may suffer some form of dependence. Misuse is found in all sectors of the profession, in men and women, and in all parts of Britain.

    The report aims to prevent any risk to patients; to raise awareness of the problem; to highlight the need for education; and to ensure access to appropriate treatment and rehabilitation. It recommends that addiction must be recognised in undergraduate, postgraduate, and continuing education programmes; that all working doctors should have access to a comprehensive occupational health service; that there must be support for those who express concern about a colleague; that medical schools, employing authorities, and GP surgeries should have a drug and alcohol policy; that doctors should avoid self prescribing of any sort; and that all doctors should be encouraged to register with a GP.

    Random testing

    At the launch press conference the president of the Royal College of Psychiatrists, Dr Robert Kendell, reported that the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges would recommend to the Department of Health and the NHS Confederation that NHS managers should have the right to impose random …

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