Most healthcare professionals are used to dealing with high pressure situations, stressful decisions and seriously ill patients, but the COVID-19 pandemic has magnified these challenges to an unprecedented level.
Many clinicians will be dealing with increased workloads or might be working in an unfamiliar field of practice. Added to that are the increased pressures of seeing symptomatic or seriously ill patients while wearing personal protective equipment (PPE), and the thought of the personal risks for you and your families.
This creates an environment of extreme stress and anxiety for frontline NHS staff. If you feel your health is suffering, consider the following points of advice.
- If you suspect your judgement or performance could be adversely impacted by your health, you must consult a suitably qualified colleague (such as your GP, occupational health doctor or psychiatrist) and follow their advice in making changes to your practice.
- Don't self-prescribe to alleviate symptoms such as exhaustion or anxiety, as this can be unsafe and is contrary to GMC guidance. Instead, get objective medical advice.
- Discuss your concerns with trusted colleagues and seek their support. They may be able to ease the pressures you face at work.
- Seek help early if you are involved in a clinical incident or you feel a complaint is likely to be made against you. While the NHS complaints procedure in England is currently paused, we can help advise members in advance of a response or statement being required.
Sources of support
While there are many existing sources of support for members, there are also additional services, some launched in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. These include:
The MDU has a 24-hour helpline and our expert advisers can support you with medico-legal issues.
This page was correct at publication on 16/04/2020. Any guidance is intended as general guidance for members only. If you are a member and need specific advice relating to your own circumstances, please contact one of our advisers.