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Medical professionals must have access to mental wellbeing support as wave three grips city


29 July 2020

More should be done to ensure medical professionals in Hong Kong have quick access to mental wellbeing support as a third wave of Covid-19 grips the city, Medical Protection said today.

Medical Protection – the world’s leading protection organisation supporting over 13,000 healthcare professionals in Hong Kong - said many will be experiencing anxiety and stress stemming from treating Covid-19 patients, financial pressures, adapting to new ways of working and adhering to Covid-19 policies. This is set against the context of significant levels of burnout among the profession.

The organisation also warned that there can be a delay before the symptoms of some mental health conditions start to emerge – as was the case months after the peak of the 2003 SARS outbreak. 

Mental wellbeing resources for medical professionals are limited, and Hong Kong has only 4.39 psychiatrists per 100,000 population - well below other regions such as England (17 per 100,000 population) and under half the number recommended by the World Health Organisation.

Dr Pallavi Bradshaw, Medicolegal Lead, Risk Prevention at Medical Protection, said: “The mental wellbeing of medical professionals is often overlooked, but it is important to acknowledge that doctors in many countries around the world will require support following Covid-19 – Hong Kong is no exception.

“Twice they have seen a light at the end of the tunnel as the virus transmission subsided, indicating a return to normality and the easing of family and financial pressures. Yet each time, the situation has regressed. Medical professionals will no longer be running on adrenaline; they will be physically and emotionally exhausted.

“Medical Protection offers wellbeing support and guidance to members through workshops, podcasts and an online resilience hub. In response to Covid-19 all members now have access to a free, confidential counselling service and we have hosted well received webinars advising on self-care and sustaining team performance during this difficult time. We also encourage doctors with mental health expertise to help other doctors in need, and they can contact us to offer their details and services.

“However, we feel more could be done, with a focus on providing quick, convenient and discreet access to the right kind of support, which can help medical professionals to manage specific issues.

“For example, we know there are numerous sources of stress for our members. Some are experiencing anxiety due to treating Covid-19 patients; with the ongoing risks that brings, the disruption to routine patient care and the associated loss of income for those in private practice. Some are still adjusting to new policies and ways of working, such as PPE and use of telemedicine, and some working on the frontline will be exhausted due to an inability to take leave or rest adequately which leaves them at risk of burnout.

“As Hong Kong goes through another cycle of this unremitting pandemic we hope employers, institutions and the authorities can work together as quickly as possible to ensure doctors in the public and private sector have access to the support they need and can continue to perform at their best for patients. Doctors should not suffer in silence.” 

END

Notes to editors

Medical Protection Counselling service

Our counselling service is provided by our trusted partners ICAS, who offer a personalised and professional service tailored specifically to your requirements and delivered by experienced qualified counsellors.

ICAS's telephone counselling provides immediate access to support 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and face-to-face counselling sessions can be arranged near to you and at your convenience, all funded by Medical Protection.

The service is entirely independent and confidential. Medical Protection members can call ICAS now and quote their membership number to book a free session. Contact details can be found at: https://www.medicalprotection.org/singapore/help-advice/confidential-counselling-service

Doctors with mental health expertise who are willing to help other doctors in need can share their details and services with MPS by emailing: AsiaEnquiries@medicalprotection.org

Source: Number of psychiatrists in Hong Kong per 100,000 population: http://citymha.org.uk/cmha-hong-kong/

For further information contact: kate.tullett@medicalprotection.org +44 (0)7515 298791.

About Medical Protection Society

MPS is the world’s leading protection organisation for doctors, dentists and healthcare professionals. We protect and support the professional interests of more than 300,000 members around the world. Membership provides access to expert advice and support and can also provide, depending on the type of membership required, the right to request indemnity for any complaints or claims arising from professional practice.

Our in-house experts assist with the wide range of legal and ethical problems that arise from professional practice. This can include clinical negligence claims, complaints, medical and dental council inquiries, legal and ethical dilemmas, disciplinary procedures, inquests and fatal accident inquiries.

Our philosophy is to support safe practice in medicine and dentistry by helping to avert problems in the first place. We do this by promoting risk management through our workshops, E-learning, clinical risk assessments, publications, conferences, lectures and presentations.