DAUK welcomes reversal of cuts to hospital doctors’ mental health service

Doctors’ Association UK (DAUK) co-chair Ms Helen Fernandes says she is delighted that cuts to mental health and addiction services for NHS hospital doctors have been reversed.

NHS England (NHSE) today announced that the Practitioner Health service for secondary care doctors, dentists and senior NHS staff would be extended by another 12 months.

DAUK reported how Practitioner Health had been due to have its funding cut from Monday – meaning no new referrals would be accepted leaving vulnerable doctors without access to its support – while a review into the service was carried out.

It led to a social media storm, with the decision criticised by doctors, healthcare professionals, and groups and associations.

Now NHSE has announced Practitioner Health will be extended by 12 months whole the wider review is carried out.

Head and shoulders image of DAUK co-chair Ms Helen Fernandes
DAUK co-chair Ms Helen Fernandes

Ms Fernandes said: “We’re delighted that NHSE has reversed its decision to cut NHS Practitioner Health for hospital doctors.

Thank you DAUK members

“Thank you to our members and to everyone who made their voices heard.

“It is disappointing that NHSE felt able to cut this lifeline of a service without proper consultation and provision of an alternative.

“Everyone understands the need to ensure value for money within the NHS, but DAUK feels that the mental health of the doctors that provide healthcare for our patients is about as important as it gets.

“NHSE needs to reflect on its decision to stop Practitioner Health, reflect on the response that this generated, and consider an alternative way to treat and communicate with its workforce.”

What is NHS Practitioner Health?

NHS Practitioner Health is a free, confidential service for doctors and dentists across England with mental illness and addiction problems, who are working or looking to return to clinical practice. This service is a commitment as part of the NHS Long Term Plan.

Announcing the reverse, Dr Navina Evans, NHSE’s chief workforce officer, said: “Following discussions with Practitioner Health on their current service for secondary care doctors, dentists, and NHS senior staff, we have jointly agreed to extend the service by 12 months, for both existing and new service users, while we carry out a wider review to ensure that all NHS staff groups have the mental health support they need.”