Support for Doctors During COVID-19
This is an extremely difficult time for us all. We have tried to bring together all the current available support. It is important to realise that it is OK to not be OK, this is an abnormal situation and most of us are struggling with it. Please support each other and seek help via some of the below resources. We would highly recommend everyone read the Red Whale document and listen to the podcast.
If you are really struggling, please reach out to us. We encourage you to discuss this in the first instance with your ES or CS, and patch team. NHSE will also have new senior appraisers in post from April who will be able to make contact with GPs if needed to discuss your situation and signpost you to the appropriate help. We want to help and support you through this.
There are also several additional sources of assistance that might be helpful:
- The Deanery Professional Support and Wellbeing team
- The Well and Resilient Doctors (WARD) website
- The individual’s own GP
- BMA wellbeing support, including 24/7 counselling and peer support (not just for members). There is always someone you can talk to. Their wellbeing support services are open to all doctors and medical students. They’re confidential and free of charge.
- LMC support schemes for GPs
- Practitioner Health Service is a free, confidential NHS service for doctors and dentists across England with mental illness and addiction problems, who are working or looking to return to clinical practice. The service can help with issues relating to a mental health concern, including stress or depression or an addiction problem, in particular where these might affect work. The service is provided by health professionals specialising in mental health support to doctors and is available in various locations across England.
- COVID Trauma Response Working Group offer some simple do's and dont's, in particular:
- Do encourage staff to use social and peer support. It’s not enough just to have good support systems in place, staff need to actively use them.
- Staff may feel guilty or not want to burden or distress others, particularly their family, so think about how peer and management support can be maximised at work.
- Evidence suggests that when a worker has the informal support of their peers following traumatic exposure, they are less likely to need formal intervention.
- The efficacy of peer interventions does not come from having a single trauma-informed or trained staff member, but rather comes from the camaraderie and sense of common fate that emerges from a shared experience of trauma.
- Headspace is offering three months free to NHS staff. This is a mindfulness app and can help to improve stress and sleep.
- Talkspace offers free therapy for impacted healthcare workers. Because of the devastating mental toll exacted by the spread of this virus, Talkspace is devoted to providing 1,000 free months of therapy for impacted doctors, nurses and social workers. To access the much-needed benefit during this emergency, healthcare workers should register after downloading the app from Google Play or Apple’s App store or via the Talkspace website and provide a picture of your smartcard or NHS ID (they ask for NPI number which is American but accept picture as proof). Once certified for eligibility, these healthcare workers will be provided access to Talkspace’s Unlimited Messaging Plus plan. It is a bit of a hassle getting started, you link via the app with a matching agent, answer a few questions, upload your ID then they give you a link and code which removes the cost (for at least a month) then choose the text only 1 month plan and enter details. Remember to cancel before you start paying unless you want to continue.
- Helphub is an online therapy service which is offers free 20-minute sessions aimed at vulnerable older people and others who are self-isolating or struggling. They are happy to help NHS staff.
- Unmind is a workplace wellness platform. Unmind has announced it will offer free access to its digital resources for all NHS staff in order to help them deal with the pressures and demand on their mental health during the crisis. If you haven’t already, you can download the Unmind app on iOS or Android and get access by entering your organisation’s Unmind URL: nhs.
- Help them help us are setting up therapists to give free therapy to NHS staff.
- MPS – members of Medical Protection Society can access six free sessions of counselling. Their counselling service is provided by our trusted partners ICAS, who offer a personalised and professional service tailored specifically to your requirements and delivered by experienced qualified counsellors. ICAS's telephone counselling provides immediate access to support 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and face-to-face counselling sessions can be arranged near to you and at your convenience, all funded by Medical Protection. The service is entirely independent and confidential. Call ICAS on 0808 189 4385 or +44 3300 241 021 from overseas and quote your Medical Protection membership number to book a free session.
Telephone Triage Skills Presentation from Drs Andy Eaton and Alison Hutchings
Dr Andy Eaton and Dr Alison Hutchings (SoPC UUSC Fellows) are rapidly putting together a series of presentations on telephone triage skills given the importance of this skill at this time:
- Session 1: A Rapid Induction Into Telephone Triage with Dr Andy Eaton. The first presentation is available here.
- Session 2:
Forthcoming presentations will be added over the next four weeks.
NB Medical Telephone Triage Webinar
NB Medical have produced a free webinar to help refresh telephone triage skills, consulting safely remotely and explain how to safety net well. It covers the technicalities, the pitfalls and how to stay within safe limits when managing your patients remotely. The webinar is available on-demand here.