Career and Personal Difficulties

Anaesthesia and medicine are stressful careers. The College recognises the importance of supporting the wellbeing of anaesthetists, and recognises that from time to time individual doctors go through times of difficulty. The following websites and resources may be useful for individual doctors to refer to.

Please note that the College cannot advise individual doctors on specific episodes of clinical care or medico-legal issues. Support for individual practitioners is in the domain of the medical defence organisations and the College strongly advises anaesthetists and related medical professionals to obtain appropriate independent insurance cover and membership of a medical defence organisation. 


Alcoholics Anonymous (AA)

Do you think you may have a problem? Checklists can be found on the AA website.

The majority of AA or NA meetings are ‘closed’ and are only for recovering addicts/alcoholics and those who think they may have a drug problem. A meeting described as ‘open’ may be attended by anyone e.g. Professionals working with addicts or family members, friends etc.  Meetings lists are on the AA or NA websites with details of open meetings at each venue.

For more information visit the AA website


Association of Anaesthetists (AAGBI) Support and Wellbeing

The AAGBI Support and Wellbeing service provides Anaesthetists with access to the appropriate support and guidance for their professional and personal wellbeing. It provides a number of schemes that are relevant for anaesthetists. The AAGBI 'glossy' entitled Drug and Alcohol Abuse amongst Anaesthetists - Guidance on Identification and Management was published in March 2011. The AAGBI Welfare Resource Pack describes the particular difficulties that 'doctors-as-patients' can experience.

For more information visit the AAGBI website


BMA Doctors for Doctors

This is a helpful option for mental health concerns, but is not addiction specific. It is not necessary to be a BMA member. There is currently a pilot scheme running with the GMC to provide support for doctors at their hearings, and along the course of their GMC involvement. Uptake has been good & favourably reviewed.

Up to six counselling sessions are available for members or helpline support. Callerscan also ask to speak to Doctor Advisor. Three of these advisors are anaesthetists.

The BMA can help with some of the employment laws and issues surrounding return to work after a period of suspension or ill-health.  

For more information visit the BMA website


The British Doctors and Dentists Group (BDDG)

This is a countrywide network of doctors and dentists at various stages in recovery from addiction, who are well again and who meet on a monthly basis at one of 18 groups covering the UK.  Following initial contact, callers may be put in touch with another doctor (in some cases from the same speciality) nearer to their home who may then introduce a new doctor to the group at the local meetings. 

Problems can be discussed at these meetings which it may not be appropriate to discuss at meetings of AA or NA for instance GMC proceedings and issues surrounding return to work etc.

Doctors under the GMC for substance abuse problems will be required to attend these meetings as conditions on their practice, or as part of their stipulated undertakings. Certificates and proof of attendance can be obtained from the group secretary and given to the GMC.

There is also an associated families group, where direct relatives of addicted doctors and dentists can obtain help and support. Each BDDG meeting usually has a families group.

Support for family members of addicted doctors can be obtained via the families Group of the BDDG.

For more information visit the BDDG website

 


Doctors’ Support Network (DSN)

The Doctors' Support Network (DSN) is a fully confidential, friendly self-help group for doctors with mental health concerns. This may be helpful for addicted doctors with dual diagnosis.

For more information visit the DSN website

 


The General Medical Council (GMC)

Advice for doctors with health concerns; help for those who are successfully managing health conditions and for doctors referred to the GMC for health-related reasons.

For more information visit the GMC website


Healthcare Professionals Recovery Group (HPRG)

These monthly meetings are attended by doctors, dentists, nurses, pharmacists & other healthcare professionals who have addiction problems. They too are confidential and offer similar help and support to that of the BDDG. 

Contacts: 
Oxford: 07967824213  
London (Chertsey): 01737 813921


Narcotics Anonymous

Narcotics Anonymous is for recovering addicts who meet regularly to help each other stay clean. It is not restricted to those with opiate/narcotic abuse problems as the name may suggest, but any drug including tranquillisers, recreational drugs and alcohol. The website contains some questions and information for those who think they may have a problem.

Do you think you may have a problem? Checklists may be found on the Narcotics Anonymous website.

The majority of AA or NA meetings are ‘closed’ and are only for recovering addicts/alcoholics and those who think they may have a drug problem. A meeting described as ‘open’ may be attended by anyone e.g. professionals working with addicts or family members, friends etc.  Meetings lists are on the AA or NA websites with details of open meetings at each venue.

For more information vist the Narcotics Anonymous website


The National Clinical Assessment Service (NCAS)

NCAS is an independent NHS body which  works with individual practitioners and healthcare organisations where there is a concern about the performance of a dentist, doctor or pharmacist. Their role is to support both the referring organisation and practitioner to consider all options, to get involved early and, where possible, restore practitioners to safe and valued practice.  Common themes in NCAS cases include concerns relating to clinical practice and capability, behaviour, health, working environment or context of practice.  Referrals to NCAS can either be self-referrals from practitioners themselves or alternatively can be made by the employer.

For more information visit the NCAS website


Practioner Health Programme (PHP)

This is an NHS funded but entirely confidential service open to doctors and dentists (living or working in the London area only). Care is multidisciplinary in nature and provides appropriate specialist care and support for any doctor with addiction, mental or physical health concerns. Where inpatient therapy is thought necessary, this will be organised and funded by the PHP/NHS. Follow-up, monitoring and help with returning to work are also part of the services offered. Unfortunately this is currently only available to London-based doctors, but there are hopes that plans for expansion to cover other areas of the country will eventuate. Advice has been most useful, &can be obtained by phone however, even if outside the London area.

For more information visit the PHP website


The Samaritans

Provides confidential advice to individuals in any kind of distress. People of all backgrounds and ages can contact them for emotional support.  Common reasons for calling the Samaritans include job and study-related stress, bereavement and isolation.

For more information visit the The Samaritans website


Sick Doctors Trust (SDT)

The SDT is an independent charity established over 18 years ago, which provides a 24 hour helpline manned exclusively by experienced doctors who are in recovery from addiction themselves, or trained counsellors.  It provides help and support to doctors who think they may have a problem with their use of alcohol or other drugs, whether prescribed or not. Calls are treated with strict confidentiality, and callers may remain anonymous if they wish.

Help offered includes assessment, advice, referral for treatment when appropriate and introduction to long term befriending and support services. The helpline also accepts calls from family members or friends, concerned colleagues, PCT officers and others.

For more information visit the Sick Doctors Trust website


SMART Recovery

The 12-step approachmay not be appealing to everyone.  SMART Recovery uses psychotherapeutic techniques that are similar to those used in many treatment services in the UK, being more along the lines of CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy). The concept started years ago, with on-line meetings with a facilitator, which many found helpful, and now there are many meetings ‘on land’ also, extending from Banff right down to Brighton. Details can be found on the website.  

For more information visit the SMART Recovery website


FINANCIAL HELP

 

Royal Medical Benevolent Fund (RMBF) 

Long term support often, even to a doctor’s family after they themselves have died if hardship continues.

For more information visit the Royal Medical Benevolent Fund (RMBF)


The Royal Medical Foundation

Exists to support medical practitioners and/or their dependents who find themselves in financial difficulty.

For more information visit the The Royal Medical Foundation


BMA Charities Trust Fund

Help for doctors with financial difficulties during life crises who are not working.

For more information visit the BMA website


The Cameron Fund

For GPs only. There are other charities and details can be obtained from a member of the Sick Doctors Trust. 

For more information visit The Cameron Fund

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