Counselling and peer support services

Free and confidential 24/7 counselling line and peer support service open to all doctors and medical students on 0330 123 1245. There is always someone you can talk to.

Location: UK
Audience: All doctors
Updated: Thursday 15 February 2024
Lotus plant article illustration

About our wellbeing services

Our wellbeing services include a range of free and confidential services and information to help support doctors and medical students: 

- Confidential 24/7 counselling line, and peer support service for all doctors and medical students.

- BMA members, plus their partners and dependents (aged 16-24 in full-time education), can also access a free structured course of up to six sessions of therapy with a counsellor. 

- A UK wellbeing support directory detailing various support services by geographical availability on our sources of support page.

The services are confidential and free of charge.

These are not emergency services. If you require urgent assistance, please contact your GP, or visit your local A&E department.

The BMA is committed to ensuring that our staff are treated with dignity and respect at work. While we understand that you may be under stress when you contact us, where staff do not feel they are being treated with respect they are empowered to end calls as a part of safeguarding staff wellbeing.

 

Counselling service

Our counselling service is provided through our accredited provider Health Assured. All counsellors are members of the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP) and bound by strict codes of confidentiality.

When to use it

The counsellors are here to help you deal with a variety of issues, both personal and work-related.

By seeking constructive help, you may identify ways of addressing the root causes of your concerns and develop strategies to reduce the impact of the consequences.

How to use it

Contact us to speak to a counsellor:

  • By phone - call 0330 123 1245 (24 hours a day, seven days a week)
  • Online - visit the online portal and request support via the contact us form or the orange live chat button, stating 'BMA' as your organisation.

What will happen when I call?

Usually, a qualified counsellor will answer. On rare occasions when all counsellors are in another call, an advisor may answer instead.

If it’s your first call, they’ll ask for:

  • The name of the organisation through which you have contact to the service (i.e. BMA)
  • Your name and contact details - to correctly identify you if any further contact is required and to provide consistent support.
  • Your date of birth - the service is only available to those above the age of 16.
  • Your post code and organisation - in case you present as an immediate risk and the counsellor is required to alert the emergency services.
  • BMA members (or their partner/dependents) wishing to access a structured course of therapy (of up to six sessions) following a clinical assessment, will also need to provide an access code which can be found by logging into your BMA account (when logged in the code will be located at the top of this page). If you need any further assistance with obtaining the access code, contact our membership services line on 0300 123 1233.

If you’ve called before, they’ll ask some security questions (e.g. your date of birth, or post code).

They’ll ask you what your call relates to. This is to make sure you get the right support, as quickly as possible.

In the unlikely event that a counsellor is unavailable, they’ll arrange a call back at a time that suits you.

The counselling service is confidential. All our counsellors are members of the BACP and are bound by strict codes of confidentiality.

How it works

The counsellors use a proactive approach to supporting you. They will provide you with space and time to talk about your concerns and provide guidance and mindfulness techniques that will help you in the present.

A few simple changes are often enough to make a world of difference. The counsellors may suggest useful resources that will help you make those changes – you may feel that is enough. At the end of the call, the counsellor will also explain the options available to you moving forward.

You can choose to simply call back if you would like to talk again or, if you're a BMA member and you would like to explore the option of structured counselling, the counsellor will offer to complete a clinical assessment with you.

Structured counselling

In addition to the 24/7 counselling line, BMA members can also access a free structured course of therapy with a counsellor.  

If you decide structured counselling is for you, the counsellor will carry out a clinical assessment. This takes around 20 minutes and can also be completed at a time best for you.

Health Assured will take into consideration biological, psychological and social factors during the assessment. It allows the counsellor to explore your concerns with you, and identify goals for counselling.

A structured course of counselling consists of up to six sessions (50 minutes each) with the same counsellor by telephone or video call.

The counsellors use a ‘solution-focussed’ approach in therapy, which focusses on the here and now.

 

It was a life-saver for me. I know it's not an 'emergency service' but it was a crisis to me. And I was so grateful it is 24/7.

Peer support service

When to use it

Our service covers a variety of issues. The most common reason is for help dealing with difficult working relationships or work and study pressures.

You can speak in confidence to another doctor. This is peer support with an emotional focus.

Our peer support doctors provide a reflective space and work with you to gain insight into your problems.

This is not an emergency service. Should you require urgent assistance, please contact your GP, or visit your local A&E department.

How to use it

Call 0330 123 1245 and ask to speak to a 'peer support' doctor.

Provide your name, contact number, address, date of birth, and job role.

You will be given the details of one of our doctors, who are experienced in supporting colleagues.

Text the peer support doctor on the number you’ve been given, to say you are contacting them for peer support and would like to arrange a time to speak.

You can then arrange ongoing conversations at mutually convenient times.

How it works

One call may be enough for you to discuss your issues. However, our peer support doctor will talk to you about whether further phone calls would be helpful.

The length of a call depends on your needs.

Although our doctors do not provide diagnoses or treatment, they can (if appropriate) signpost you to other sources of support.

Peer support doctors

Read first-hand accounts from some of our peer support doctors.

Peer support doctors Shake Seigel, Lailah Peel, Dick Symonds and Michael Dawson talk openly about how the service works, why someone might use it, and the ways in which they can help:

She understood because she has been there, in a way that people outside medicine could not comprehend.

Further information

For further information about our services, please call 020 7383 6110 or email [email protected]

Please note that this phone number and email address are only monitored 09:00-17:00, Monday to Friday (excluding bank holidays and 28 December).

However, the counselling line (0330 123 1245) is available 24/7, 365 days of the year.

 

Feedback to us

We’re continually evaluating the quality of the services we provide.

Please submit your feedback on the service you received. It should only take a couple of minutes.

You can choose to submit feedback anonymously should you wish to.

Submit feedback

 

Privacy notice

Our peer support service only collects data and personal information from you. Categories of data collected will include name, telephone number, ethnicity, specialty, geographical location, age, and gender. This data will be held for up to 20 years to ensure quality and consistency of service and in line with our legal requirements.

We do not disclose this information to any third parties unless legally obliged to.

In those rare cases where a doctor's health problem appears to pose a risk to their patients, the peer support doctor has a responsibility to prevent harm.

The peer support doctor will try to encourage the doctor to obtain appropriate help to change whatever presents a risk to patients. Failure on the doctor's part to comply will mean that the peer support doctor will have to take advice on how to act and this may be by contacting the GMC. However, we anticipate these occasions will be very rare and will only ever be undertaken as a means of last resort.

For further details see the BMA's privacy policy.

Our counselling service is provided in partnership with Health Assured. Please visit the Health Assured website for privacy policy and GDPR compliance statement.

Your interactions with the counselling and peer support services will not be linked to any BMA membership records.