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DOCTORS marked today’s World Suicide Prevention Day by warning of the “unimaginable mental health pressures” they face amid Covid-19 and more than a decade of Tory austerity.
The Doctors’ Association UK said that its members suffer from higher rates of suicide in comparison with the general population, with female doctors in particular up to four times more likely to take their own lives.
But conditions within the NHS are “currently placing our staff under unprecedented pressures and many are struggling to meet the unrealistic demands of the job,” the group warned.
GPs nationwide are facing increased abuse from patients and “reckless false media reports about workload and hours which not only affect our morale, but our reputation and relationships with patients,” it said, warning the pressures have reached “intolerable levels.”
The association’s co-chairwoman Dr Ellen Welch said: “The relentless denigration of GPs is grinding down an entire profession.
“How many more doctors have to burnout, retire early or even die before it clicks that the problem is fundamentally with the system and not the people within it who are trying their level best.”
Dr Welch, who called for action to address “uncapped workloads and our workforce crisis,” said her thoughts are with the family of Dr Gail Milligan, a Surrey GP who committed suicide in July at the age of 47.
In an emotional social media post, her husband Christopher said the pressures of the job had contributed to the tragedy.
He said: “The next time you hear somebody banging on about lazy doctors, please stop and think about what happened to my wife.
“There just aren’t enough GPs to cope, and now there is one less.”
Campaigners at Keep Our NHS Public urged the health service to “meaningfully address the issue of mental health support to break down barriers in accessing help.”
The group’s Samantha Wathen told the Morning Star: “The Covid pandemic and ongoing NHS crisis has served to both exacerbate and highlight the crucial need for this support – those who care for us also need someone to be there for them.
“Doctors are not super-human, they are ordinary people who are often overwhelmed by unimaginable pressures.”
Doctors in Distress founder Amandip Sidhu urged those “funding, leading and managing the NHS workforce to help protect the public and ensure the health of their caregivers is as robust as possible.”
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