Doctors twice as likely to die by suicide than member of general population

Consultant burnout impacting on patients with diminished quality of care, says IHCA

A doctor is now twice as likely to die by suicide than a member of the general population, the annual conference of the Irish Hospital Consultants Association (IHCA) has been told.   Photograph: iStock

A doctor is now twice as likely to die by suicide than a member of the general population, the annual conference of the Irish Hospital Consultants Association (IHCA) has been told. Photograph: iStock

 

A doctor is now twice as likely to die by suicide than a member of the general population, the annual conference of the Irish Hospital Consultants Association (IHCA) has been told.

The association expressed serious concerns at what it described as the increasing levels of burnout and stress now experienced by hospital doctors in Ireland.

It said that consultant burnout was impacting on patients with diminished quality of care

The IHCA said deteriorating working conditions across Ireland’s acute public hospitals was increasing the levels of stress and anxiety suffered by doctors.

It said that research undertaken by the Royal College of Physicians of Ireland earlier this year, found that that a doctor was now twice as likely to take his or her own life than a member of the general public.

It said this research had highlighted several reoccurring factors driving doctor burnout across public hospitals including staff shortages, inability to take annual and sick leave and inadequate replacement cover during leave.

IHCA Vice President and consultant paediatric radiologist Dr Gabrielle Colleran said working in healthcare had always brought with it a level of stress, but in recent years this had been amplified by the worsening working conditions faced by hospital doctors on the front line.

“These poor conditions mean that doctors cannot work to the best of their ability and are delivering less than optimal care to patients .”

“Of course, patients always take priority, but we also need to take better care of the wellbeing of those on the frontline. The HSE can’t keep expecting our doctors to work in a way which is unsustainable and overwhelming doctors. If our doctors are burnt-out, our patients suffer, and the quality of care is diminished.”

“Fixing our current consultant shortage, by ensuring that each hospital team has the required number of specialists, would make a huge difference to the working lives of our hospital doctors.

“Creating a working environment where our hospitals have adequate numbers of doctors will allow these doctors to take statutory leave and have adequate cover during this leave and sick leave when they need it.

“This currently does not happen, leaving doctors to carry on, but storing up more damaging, long-term mental and physical health issues.”

If you are feeling suicidal you can call Samaritans on 116123, which is free from any phone, or email jo@samaritans.ie; you can also call Pieta House on its free helpline, 1800-247247, or text HELP to 51444