Almost half of doctors in the UK say their mental health is worse now than during the pandemic, as new concerns grow over hospital waiting times.
A new study from the Medical Protection Society (MPS) found that 46% were psychologically worse off than during the pandemic due to work pressure, rising demand and staffing issues within the NHS.
Doctors said they “felt like they were going from crisis to crisis with little or no respite” during the pandemic.
Last week, data released by NHS Digital also revealed that 24.2% of sick days across all health services in March 2023 were due to anxiety, stress, depression or mental illness. other psychiatric illnesses.
The figure was 24.6% in February and 23.3% in January.
Saffron Cordery, deputy chief executive of NHS providers, said doctors had faced a “huge toll” on their psychological wellbeing “due to issues they worked with on a daily basis.
It comes after NHS England pledged to share £2.3million between seven regions to maintain 40 NHS staff mental health and wellbeing centres.
The hubs, created in 2021, were to provide workers with quick and easy access to support.
However, MPS said a freedom of information request from the British Psychological Society revealed that £40million would be needed to run the sites.
Other data showed that one in four GPs have private medical insurance amid growing concerns over hospital waiting lists.
A survey of 860 GPs for Pulse magazine found that 21% had their own personal private medical insurance, while 4% had it funded through their employer.
Another 15% said they were considering removing it.
When asked why, people said it was because ‘the NHS waiting lists are too long’ and they weren’t able to take sick days due to the workload intensity in general practice.
The MPS survey showed that 75% of doctors did not think the government was doing enough to help healthcare workers with mental health.
He also pointed out that 43% are considering their future career due to concerns about their own well-being.
More than three-quarters (76%) said staffing shortages made it difficult to take time off to deal with their issues.
Some 43% of physicians said that “not being able to do the right thing for patients” had an impact on their mental health. Elsewhere, 47% said they were concerned about the impact of burnout on patient safety, and 40% said working long hours affected their mental well-being.
A doctor who took part in the inquiry said: ‘The pressures within the NHS and the haemorrhage of experienced staff at all levels are making the job increasingly impossible.
They said the fear of serious incidents, “things going wrong, the feeling of going from crisis to crisis with little or no respite” took its toll.
They said: “I am considering early retirement – much earlier than expected. I think it will be a sad loss for myself and for NHS services, as I have considerable experience and expertise. But I also have my health, my well-being and my family to consider.
Professor Dame Jane Dacre, chair of the MPS, said mental health and wellbeing centers are ‘providing desperately needed support for staff’ with a range of issues, including anxiety and depression.
She added: “The demand for support for mental health issues is always high. Nearly half of our members tell us their mental health is worse now than it was during the pandemic, and a similar number are considering their future in healthcare due to mental health issues.
“We are also seeing more staff missing work due to mental health issues than ever before.
“It therefore seems absolutely the wrong time to reduce mental health provision for healthcare staff and risk the sustainability of an established network of centers which are essential to support mental wellbeing and retention.
“We urge the government to consider providing sustainable funding to strengthen the hubs. While retention is complex and multi-faceted, investing in staff mental health support is a fundamental pillar.
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