Intended for healthcare professionals

Views And Reviews Personal view

I am a better doctor for allowing myself to stop, reflect, and grieve

BMJ 2017; 357 doi: (Published 20 June 2017) Cite this as: BMJ 2017;357:j2950
Mental health response to disasters and other critical incidents: Free access to BMJ Best Practice topic
  1. Helgi Johannsson, consultant anaesthetist, clinical director of anaesthesia and theatres12
  1. 1St Mary’s Hospital, London, UK
  2. 2Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust, London, UK
  1. helgijoh{at}

At 3 am on the 14 June 2017 I was woken by the loud, grating ringtone that I use for the St Mary’s Hospital major incident number. After the recent terror attacks in London my colleagues and I had become acutely aware that further major incidents could be on the horizon and I had saved the number into my favourites, allowing it to pierce through my “do not disturb” function.

After a few seconds I worked out what was happening and checked my phone. I had recently set up a WhatsApp group—which was only to be used during a major incident—for my consultant colleagues. I saw it had filled with messages about a fire where we expected mass casualties. I got up, looked out from our balcony and …

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