A national mental health service has been rolled out to support all doctors nationwide, the Government has announced.
The NHS Practitioner Health Programme (PHP) – led by GP burnout expert Dr Clare Gerada – has offered mental health support to doctors since 2008.
Health secretary Matt Hancock today revealed that all NHS doctors will now be able to access ‘confidential advice and support’ to help them deal with stressful workplace incidents and mental health issues.
The expansion follows successful pilots in London and with GPs across the country.
All doctors and dentists working in the NHS are now entitled to free mental health support 24/7 via a dedicated phoneline and a crisis text service if they have experienced a ‘stressful’ incident at work or suffered a mental health problem.
Any user will receive a link to the app where they can book appointments with a chosen clinician. Following assessment, they might be prescribed medication, get support off work and access individual and group therapies.
Dr Gerada said: ‘I am immensely pleased and proud that the work we have done over the last decade has demonstrated the value of a service like NHS Practitioner Health. This means that any doctor or dentist in England can access free, confidential NHS mental health support and treatment and get the help they need.
‘No doctor or dentist need shy away from seeking help. They can be assured of the same levels of confidentiality we would afford members of the public who access care, and the stigma and barriers to seeking help through mainstream NHS services have been removed.’
Mr Hancock said: ‘Our incredible NHS would be nothing without our outstanding, devoted staff. Many of them face incredibly challenging, and often distressing, situations on a daily basis and we owe it to staff to provide the mental and physical health support they need to deliver consistently high-quality care for patients.
‘There is a lot of work taking place across the country to improve the offer to staff and dedicated support to all doctors and dentists in the country is a key part of this. I’m determined to provide those who care for us the full backing they deserve and open doors to specialist services to turn to whenever they need help.’
The telephone line for signing up to NHSPH is 0300 0303 300 –-open 8am to 8pm Monday to Friday and 8am to 2pm Saturday. For the out of hours crisis text service, text NHSPH to 85258 or email Prac.Health@nhs.net.