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Covid-19: Singapore medical professionals must get mental wellbeing support they need


29 July 2020

More should be done to ensure medical professionals in Singapore are getting the mental wellbeing support they need due to the Covid-19 pandemic, Medical Protection said today.

Medical Protection – the world’s leading protection organisation supporting over 6,600 healthcare professionals in Singapore - praised the Ministry of Health (MOH) for its role in producing the mindline website enabling the public to access wellbeing resources and tools easily and conveniently following Covid-19. It has called for a similar approach to help medical professionals access support with their specific issues and continue to deliver the best care for their patients.

The organisation said many will be experiencing anxiety and stress stemming from a range of issues – including treating Covid-19 patients, financial pressures, adapting to new ways of working and adhering to Covid-19 compliance measures. This is set against the context of significant levels of burnout among the profession.

Dr Pallavi Bradshaw, Medicolegal Lead, Risk Prevention at Medical Protection, said: “We recognise that there are barriers to medical professionals seeking mental wellbeing support, but it is important to acknowledge that healthcare workers in many countries around the world will require support following Covid-19 - Singapore is no exception and medical professionals should not suffer in silence.

“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 welcome the efforts of the Singapore Psychiatric Association which has collaborated with the Singapore Medical Association in collating a list of psychiatrists who will see medical professionals informally.

“However, we feel more could be done, with a focus on providing easier access to the right kind of support, which can help medical professionals to manage specific issues and continue to perform at their best.

“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 risks that brings, the disruption brought to routine patient care and the associated loss of income for those in private practice. Some are still adjusting to new ways of working, with 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.

“For other medical professionals there are external sources of stress and anxiety – including fear of non-compliance on Covid-19 measures and uncertainty around future policies.

“The MOH Office for Healthcare Transformation, working with the Institute of Mental Health and other health organisations, has developed an excellent “one stop” mental wellbeing platform for the public which matches them with forms of assistance where needed. Resources available include helplines and counselling, employment support, financial assistance and family and caregiving support.

“We hope that a similar, dedicated approach could also be considered for medical professionals. Singapore’s doctors have stepped up to the Covid-19 challenge and should be well supported.”

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

The website developed by MOH Office for Healthcare Transformation, working with the Institute of Mental Health and other health organisations:https://www.mindline.sg/

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.