‘Doctors can look after patients only if the system looks after them’ – BMA responds to Labour mental health package

by BMA media team

Press release from the BMA.

Location: England
Published: Monday 29 June 2020

Responding to the Labour Party’s Care for Carers proposals for a mental health package for health and social care workers1, Dr David Wrigley, BMA council deputy chair and BMA wellbeing lead, said:

“Doctors and their colleagues across health and social care have been fighting daily to save lives on the frontline during this pandemic. They are paying a heavy mental and emotional toll for all they have gone through. Working gruelling hours in often unfamiliar settings, seeing large numbers of patients dying and consoling their distressed relatives, all the while anxious about their own safety and that of their loved ones: the strain they are under is huge.

“We continue to hear heart-breaking stories of the personal impact2 that this had on their mental health and wellbeing, with the latest BMA survey3 of doctors revealing that a third are experiencing depression, anxiety or other mental health conditions as a direct result of their work in the current Covid-19 crisis. Many have had little time off, working solidly during the pandemic to care for their patients.

“Meanwhile, during the peak of the pandemic, demand for the BMA’s own wellbeing support services4 for doctors and medical students soared by 40% above the usual help needed for them. This reveals the extent of the impact this crisis is having on healthcare staff.

“Those going above and beyond to care for patients need to be cared for, and Labour’s proposals echo the BMA’s own calls for far better support for healthcare staff5. This includes properly-funded, universally accessible and high-quality services.

“The aftershocks of Covid-19 will be felt for a long time, especially with staff increasingly anxious about a potentially devastating second wave as the NHS tries to gear up to deal with the huge backlog of delayed non-Covid care.

“Therefore, we need long-term solutions and support for health and care staff. They can only look after patients if the system looks after them.”

Notes to editors

The BMA is a trade union and professional association representing and negotiating on behalf of all doctors in the UK. A leading voice advocating for outstanding health care and a healthy population. An association providing members with excellent individual services and support throughout their lives. 

  1. For full details contact the Labour party [email protected] 
  1. Find first-person testimonies from a recent BMA survey here
  1. Latest BMA survey findings here
  1. The BMA offers confidential 24/7 counselling and peer support services open to all doctors and medical students (regardless of BMA membership), plus their partners and dependents, on 0330 123 1245. More details here
  1. Find more information on the BMA’s  work on improving the mental wellbeing of doctors and medical students, including its mental health charter, here