The service will help with:
- Common and more complex mental health conditions
- Mental health conditions relating to a physical health issue
- Substance misuse including support for community detoxification
- Rehabilitation and support to return to work after a period of mental ill-health
The service can be accessed by any doctor or dentist (including trainees) who is registered on the National Performers List in England. People may also want to access the service when they are looking to return to clinical practice after a period of absence.
Please note the service is not for emergency or crisis issues. These should be directed to mainstream NHS.
Practitioners presenting to PH may have one of three main anxiety disorders: phobic disturbance, panic disorder and/or generalised anxiety disorder (most likely).
Anxiety is also a common symptom of depression and drug/alcohol misuse or physical illness, such as thyrotoxicosis.
Common types of anxiety
- Generalised Anxiety Disorder (GAD) – GAD is characterised by extreme worry about money, work, family life, social interactions and health concerns. Unlike some other forms of anxiety its focus shifts from one thing to another depending on what is going on your life.
- Depression and anxiety is the most common mental health complaint in the UK. For many people, depression and anxiety plagues their life, leaving them on the one hand overwhelmed by an encompassing sadness and lack of hope for the future and on the other wracked with crippling anxiety where they feel constantly on edge.
- Performance anxiety – To a degree, is a very useful set of emotions in fact; triggering a ‘fight or flight’ response that prepares the body for the danger it perceives, making us more alert and ready to respond. The anxiety becomes a problem when your career rests on those performances or when it begins to seriously impact on your quality of life.
- Social anxiety is characterised by crippling self-consciousness and anxiety when in the company of other people. It can make it very hard to function effectively at work and can severely limit people’s ability to form relationships.
- Obsessive compulsive disorder is usually thought of as a form of anxiety where the sufferer develops strategies to try to manage underlying anxiety such as routines which can be physical (eg turning switches off a certain number of times) or mental (counting in a certain way before undertaking actions).
- When these routines start to interfere with life they are called compulsions. Obsessions are intrusive and unwelcome thoughts, often of embarrassing or shameful content, which occur unbidden. They can cause great anxiety themselves because of their content.
The above is not exhaustive, and you would need to talk to one our psychiatrists to explore your symptoms in detail before making a diagnosis.
Since starting the service, a number of doctors and dentists have attended PH with bipolar disorder, some of whom were not already known to treatment services. This is hardly surprising as there are between 1,400 and 2,000 doctors with bipolar disorder working in the UK.
Most health professionals with bipolar disorder get on with their professional lives. The keys to staying well are about looking after yourself properly, good management strategies and good relationships with your healthcare team.
Depression is likely to be one of the main reasons why a practitioner will contact PH. Doctors and dentists often present, not with low mood but with feelings of guilt brought on by feeling that they are letting their colleagues down, or feeling that they are not providing their patients with the best care possible. Doctors and dentists may find that they find it difficult to concentrate and colleagues may notice that work is left unfinished, that reports and other administrative tasks are piling up. The doctor/dentist might find it difficult to relax and that they turn to alcohol or hypnotics for help (the later maybe self-prescribed or patient-returns).
Once you are assessed by a PH clinician you will be offered a range of interventions based on the assessment.
These interventions will follow the NICE guidelines.
Practitioner Health Service is not an occupational health service, it is a treatment service. Clinicians within PH may however link with local OH services to support a doctor/dentist’s return to clinical practice. If specific OH support is what you need, please contact the NHS England regional team to identify your local OH provider.
It is not a replacement for mainstream NHS services, nor is it designed to offer a second opinion. Doctors and dentists who are currently supported by NHS mental health services would be encouraged to remain with their local treatment team, but could seek guidance on particular aspects of care, or support for return to work.
We can offer independent support to doctors and dentists who are undergoing performance proceedings, but it cannot be used to provide health reports to inform PAGs or PLDPs. Formal assessment of health issues should be commissioned from a separate organisation.
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