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Condolences pour in for ‘overwhelmed’ GP who died by suicide

death by suicide

Condolences from patients, family and friends have poured in for a GP who sadly died by suicide last week.

Dr Gail Milligan, who worked as a GP partner at Camberley Health Centre in Surrey, died on 27 July after becoming ‘overwhelmed’ with work.

A message on the practice website read: ‘Dr Milligan was a beloved member of the practice and will be sorely missed by staff and the patients whom she supported and cared for with such dedication.’

It added: ‘Patients are invited to offer their condolences via our online memorial book accessed here. These messages will be shared with Dr Milligan’s family. 

‘If patients would like to leave flowers or personal cards, we are providing a safe area for you to do so by the entrance of the health centre.’

Dr Milligan qualified at Manchester University in 1998, and joined Camberley Health Centre in 2003 after training as a GP in Reading.

Her husband said in a post on Facebook that her job as a GP partner became ‘overwhelming, especially during the pandemic’.

‘We are in no doubt that the job made her ill,’ he wrote.

The practice said: ‘Dr Milligan was a dedicated and passionate GP and was much loved and respected by patients and colleagues alike. 

‘Her commitment and expertise in her various roles across primary care and medical education were clear to all.’

It added: ‘We know that some members of the community will be impacted by this sad news and so we want to remind you of the support available within Surrey Heath. Visit Healthy Surrey for more information.’

Fiona Edwards, chief executive of NHS Frimley, said: ‘Everyone at NHS Frimley was shocked at the unexpected death of Dr Gail Milligan, a much-loved friend and colleague and a highly respected and admired clinician.

‘We are working with her practice to provide support at this difficult time, as well as supporting wider staff who knew and worked with Gail.

‘We would like to add our sympathies and condolences to the many already expressed to Gail’s family and friends.’

Dr Farah Jameel, BMA England GP committee chair, said: ‘As a tightly-knit community of professionals, we are deeply saddened and shaken to learn about the death of Dr Milligan. The loss will be profoundly felt by the whole profession, and we offer our deepest condolences to Dr Milligan’s family, friends and colleagues. Their grief will be immeasurable.

‘Whilst more details about the circumstances that led to this tragedy may unfold in time, it is clear from the information that we have that Dr Milligan faced intolerable pressures in her working life as she strove to provide the care her patients needed. She was not alone; GPs across the country, despite their professionalism, dedication and compassion, are struggling to meet the untenable and unrealistic demands of the job today.

‘GPs in their very nature want to give their all to their patients and their job, but this should never come at the expense of their happiness, health, safety and wellbeing – and those struggling must be able to access the support they need.

‘The Government and policymakers must wake up to the damage being wrought within the NHS on their watch, and take a more responsible stance to safeguarding the workforce, who are all operating at their absolute limits.

‘The death of such a talented family doctor will be a monumental loss to her loved ones, patients and the profession.’

NHS Practitioner Health medical director Professor Dame Clare Gerada said that over 20% more GPs have presented to mental health service NHS Practitioner Health during the pandemic compared with the year before.

And a Pulse survey revealed half of the existing GP workforce plans to retire at or before the age of 60, with respondents citing reasons such as burnout and workload.

The BMA offers free and confidential 24/7 counselling and peer support services open to all doctors and medical students (regardless of BMA membership), plus their partners and dependents, on 0330 123 1245.

NHS Practitioner Health is a free, confidential NHS primary care mental health service with expertise in treating health and care professionals, and has a dedicated 24-hour text crisis support available to all doctors in England.

READERS' COMMENTS [10]

Patrufini Duffy 5 August, 2022 5:35 pm

RIP – timeless souls.

There is much needed opportunity to learn and change things.
Pulse, perhaps can help, as the nations national GP newspaper, could re-tone and re-formulate articles towards some positivity and champion worth, respect and value as we move forward into 2023. Turn the battle and the frictional words and ugliness of this all into something worth working for. We are all having bad days and perhaps riling friction to a profession that is already aware of the dark side of this NHS and it’s leadership and agenda is not what is of key importance now. People are tired, and see no end. Perhaps a new brighter format with new ideas, some empowerment and less grey/bleak NHSE top down narrative and sense of demise would do wonders to all carers day in day out. Turn this around – it is getting overwhelming and it is not even winter, perhaps from a media perspective we can block out the perpetual wheel of negativity (we know it is not going anywhere) and empower self-preservation and a sense of belonging and not be tricked into the media narrative. At this rate, some of us may even block out Pulse (which I know is what goes on), like they block out the BBC, Daily Mail and other media streams because its just too much.
Just a thought for a more nurturing and healthier future.
Just an idea for us all.

Unnati Patel 5 August, 2022 6:10 pm

Absolutely heartbreaking to read a fellow GP felt such extreme pressure and felt they had no other way out. May Dr Milligan rest in peace and I pray her family and friends are given the strength through their devastating loss. No profession is worth this, extremely saddening.

David Jarvis 5 August, 2022 6:39 pm

What an absolutely tragic waste. I feel so sorry for her friends and family. As above it repeatedly raises the question about how nhs staff are treated by management, govt media and patients. We have seen an increase in petty unfounded and some downright nasty and racist complaints. I really don’t think people understand the impact on people who choose a caring profession. The GMC clearly don’t see their role in many Dr deaths.

Scottish GP 5 August, 2022 10:40 pm

Appalling, RIP
My last day today and truthfully glad.
Nobody cares. The system is irretrievably broken, with austerity approaching it will just get worse.

Merlin Wyltt 8 August, 2022 2:51 pm

No one cares. If you ask for help you risk investigation and more stress. It’s hard to just quit when you are tied into a partnership. I have tried to lower my standards of care, accept I work in a broken system, ignore as many requests as I can and be more abrasive with colleagues, staff and patients. Totally not how I want to behave-but at some point self preservation kicks in.

Truth Finder 8 August, 2022 3:33 pm

The CQC and GMC has a lot to say in this piling the pressure on without the staffing and resources.

Patrufini Duffy 8 August, 2022 5:38 pm

Yes Merlin. They once told you you were in the top 1%. Then treat you like you’re a problem villain.l and expendable, what a joke. No surprise these NHSE Primay Care Directors and Ministers all jump ship. Siphoning it all off. Perhaps the most ugly employer in the world. They parade they’re the biggest with 1.3 million neglected, belittled and short changed staff. The NHS here for patients, not staff – rule no.1 – sweet talks it’s way out of whistleblowers and direct scrutiny of it’s perverse tactics, racism and inequality. They’re long term plan is crumbling daily. Clap clap. But the thing they know, is that YOU KNOW WHAT’S GOING ON – AND THEY WILL BE TERRIFIED OF THAT morso than ever. Even the cat down the road knows:

https://www.longtermplan.nhs.uk/online-version/chapter-4-nhs-staff-will-get-the-backing-they-need/

William Scriven 10 August, 2022 4:52 am

Very tragic. But no surprise that no help was given. What happens if a GP admits to suffering from mental illness ? The GMC, referral for an ‘independent’ medical examination ? Then time off getting worse ? There is so much prejudice from colleagues too, some of whom will seek to use mental illness as a weapon. No wonder most doctors keep quiet.

The Last of the mohicans 10 August, 2022 5:00 am

RIP

Richard Greenway 10 August, 2022 10:35 am

My heartfelt symptathy to her family and colleagues. This is a tragedy, and not the first GP suicide recently. GPs are incredibly emotionally invested in their practices, and have been pushed harder and harder to breaking point.
I think we have to accept that there is a central desire to break General Practice, and tghe GP Partner Model. They control the system, but mustn’t be allowed to break us as individuals. It may not help, but I am about to write to my MP- perhaps now is a time where they may listen.