Researchers at the Universities of Bristol, Keele and University College London have fed back early research findings to help shape the development of a NHS England commissioned service for GPs with mental health problems.
High stress and reduced well-being are common amongst doctors, including general practitioners (GPs). Doctors are more likely to experience mental health symptoms and are at greater risk of suicide compared with the general population. Despite this need, evidence suggests that the NHS workforce, including doctors, have insufficient access, and face barriers, to mainstream healthcare provision. To date, little research has focused on the mental health of the NHS workforce, including doctors working in general practice.
After overwhelming interest from GP participants, from across England, the study researchers have reported that representatives from the Medical Directorate at NHS England have taken on board some of the emerging barriers and facilitators to help-seeking, as reported by their GP participants.
Dr Ruth Riley, Principal Investigator, from the Centre for Academic Primary Care at the University of Bristol said:
"Our GP participants frequently report struggling in isolation or breaking down and burning out on the job. Meanwhile, support and provision is often patchy, inadequate and difficult to access due to the stigma of mental illness and concerns about confidentiality. Addressing workforce shortages to enable GPs to take time off work and accessing timely, good quality care and enabling doctors to return to work is therefore crucial in ensuring the mental health needs of doctors are met."
The collaborative study entitled 'Exploring the barriers and facilitators to help-seeking by GPs: Improving access to support' aims to improve understanding of the barriers and facilitators and to identify solutions so that current and future doctors can access suitable care when necessary.