The Faculty of Occupational Medicine (FOM) welcomes the publication of the review of doctors who commit suicide while under GMC fitness to practise investigations. It is vital that the health and wellbeing of doctors is seen as a priority by both employers and the regulator.
FOM Health for Health Professionals Lead, Dr Debbie Cohen said:
“We appreciate the stated aim to ensure that doctors feel ‘innocent until proven guilty’. It is important to recognise that doctors who are under investigation for any reason will be feeling vulnerable and distressed and require support. Many doctors under fitness to practise investigation may indeed be suffering from complex underlying health concerns.
“Early intervention is imperative to provide the doctor with the expert advice and support they require. This must also include a specialist in occupational medicine. This early and multi disciplinary approach has been shown to reduce the likelihood of doctors being referred to the regulator.
“Many occupational physicians are already supporting doctors with complex problems working in partnership with GPs and Psychiatrists through developed local networks. This local system of support has benefits for the doctor, their employer and the doctors’ families.
“Our collective challenge is to work more effectively with employers, deaneries and the regulator to ensure improved access to specialist occupational and mental health support, so that doctors receive timely, high quality and effective support for their health needs.
“We are disappointed that the report makes limited reference to the critical and central role that specialist occupational health support can provide to doctors with complex health needs.
“We are also disappointed that the report made no reference to the role of the Faculty in both developing competencies for its own members as well as working in collaboration with the Royal College of Psychiatry and Royal College of General Practitioners. It should also be noted within the report that the Faculty is the only organisation to be running on-going training and CPD sessions for our members on the subject of physician health.
“Nearly two hundred occupational health physicians have now received enhanced competency training on the management of doctors’ health problems via the Faculty’s Health for Health Professionals training programme.
“The recommendation for a National Support Service for doctors who have been referred to the GMC is welcomed and can have benefits. However we are concerned that the service must be flexible, confidential and designed to meet the needs of all doctors across the UK and be at arms length from any regulatory process. The role of specialist occupational medicine input needs to be acknowledged as central to the development and management of any agreed support service.”
FOM President Dr Richard Heron said:
“Occupational health specialists have the skills to manage complex health problems in the workplace sensitively with sick doctors, their own treating physicians and their employers. Our goal is the best outcome for the doctor and their patients with increasing public confidence in the governance of our profession.”
Media enquiries: Patrick Cullen – 020 3116 6910 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Notes to editors
The Faculty of Occupational Medicine is a charity that promotes healthy working lives for all. We set standards for occupational medicine and occupational health which help to drive quality improvement and improve outcomes for patients.