Government must fund addiction services for medics

The government needs to do more to help doctors who become addicted to drink and drugs, according to the British Medical Association (BMA).

A BBC poll has found over the past 10 years 750 hospital staff in England had been disciplined over alcohol- and drug-related incidents. The figures are based on replies from one in three hospital trusts in the UK.

BMA research estimates that 1 in 15 doctors, at some point in their lifetime, will have some kind of problem with alcohol or drugs.

Problems range from a single drink to aid sleep to more serious problems which could affect patient care, the BMA said.

Dr Vivienne Nathanson, the BMA’s head of science and ethics, said doctors work in very stressful environments in a culture where it is difficult to seek help.

“There are some services already available to doctors such as the BMA’s counselling service and its advisory unit Doctors for Doctors, but the government could do more by investing in specially designed services that will meet the distinct needs of doctors,” she said.

“Doctors respond extremely well to treatment when they have the appropriate services available to them. Research has shown that the vast majority of doctors will make a full recovery.”

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