NHS Practitioner Health is a free, confidential service for doctors and dentists across England with mental illness and addiction problems, who are working or looking to return to clinical practice. This service is a commitment as part of the NHS Long Term Plan.
The previously named NHS GP Health Service (formed as part of a broader package of support within the General Practice Forward view published in 2016) launched on the 30 January 2017, with The Hurley Clinic Partnership as the provider of this service. We have now expanded this service to include all doctors and dentist working in England with the service now known as NHS Practitioner Health.
The service is an important part of our commitment to help retain a healthy and resilient workforce and in supporting doctors and dentists (including trainees) who wish to remain in or return to clinical practice after a period of ill health.
What does the service look like?
- It is a free, confidential service provided by health professionals specialising in mental health support to doctors.
- It is accessible via a confidential national self-referral phone line, website and app, enabling doctors and dentists to seek information about the services available, access self-help tools, and access clinical support.
- Treatment services are available across many different areas across England, with local delivery supported through a local clinician.
- There is a range of clinical support, accessible across England with doctors and dentists are free to choose the most suitable locality which matches their needs.
- There is a choice of different premises across local services to enable ease of access, with the confidence of anonymity to minimise risk of meeting colleagues or patients.
Who can access the service?
- Any doctor, dentist or trainee registered with the GMC or GDC and working in England.
- Any doctor or dentist who is looking to return to clinical practice after a period of absence.
How can the service be accessed?
- Doctors and dentists can access the service in a number of ways:
- By calling the dedicated helpline number with access to trained and experienced handlers
- Online by email, via the website or by a smartphone App.
- Following first contact, doctors and dentists will be able to consult with an experienced clinician within their locality or if they prefer, they can see a clinician in another area – anywhere in England.
- Doctors and dentists will also be able to have online consultations via video calls i.e. Skype and FaceTime at their convenience/preference.
Is the service self-referral only?
The service is self-referral only. Other organisations or colleagues may signpost doctors and dentists to NHS Practitioner Health, but the service will not accept referrals from any third party; the doctors and dentists as the patient must self-refer themselves to receive support.
Where will the services be located?
The service runs nationwide across England. Within each area there is a network of clinicians which can be accessed at a range of different sites.
How can a national service provide a locally sensitive service?
NHS England will work closely with The Hurley Clinic Partnership to ensure that doctors and dentists can expect a locally sensitive service. This includes safeguards to ensure confidentiality are strictly maintained, with only the clinicians directly involved in doctors and dentist support has access to any information or records kept by NHS Practitioner Health.
What sort of services can doctors and dentists expect?
NHS Practitioner Health will help doctors and dentists with:
- Common and more complex mental health conditions
- Mental health conditions relating to a physical health issue
- Substance misuse including support for community detoxification
- Rehabilitation and support to return to work after a period of mental ill-health.
Some examples of the support available through this service are:
- General psychiatric support and treatment (face-to-face)
- Support for addiction related health problems (face-to-face)
- Psychological therapies, e.g. Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT) (face-to-face or via Video Technology/Call
- Brief psychotherapy
- Group therapy including reflective practice groups
- Local group addressing specific areas (for example, suspended doctors, addicted doctors or specific issues affecting mental health in a particular area).
The service will adopt a holistic approach to providing support to doctors and dentists by signposting to other services where necessary for example:
- Financial and personal support
- Support in relation to regulatory/performance issues
- Legal/Indemnity support
- Support to return to clinical practise.
How much funding is available for this service?
The NHS Long Term Plan has made available up to £7 million per annum for NHS Practitioner Health.
Key partners in development of the service:
NHS England is grateful for the ongoing support of the following partners who have contributed to the development of the service over the last several years. We look forward to continuing to work with our partners alongside The Hurley Clinic Partnership, including:
- British Medical Association (BMA)
- British Dental Association (BDA)
- Faculty of Occupational Medicine (FOM)
- General Medical Council (GMC)
- General Dental Council (GDC)
- Health Education England (HEE)
- Practitioner Performance Advisory Service (part of NHS Resolution)
- Academy of Medical Royal Colleges (on behalf of Royal Colleges and Faculties)
NHS England would also like to acknowledge the various stakeholders who have contributed their time and expertise through the various stakeholder forums.