New health scheme will aid ‘stressed’ dentists

NHS dentists are to get a new service to help them cope with physical or mental health issues and addiction problems.

The National Clinical Assessment Service (NCAS) is developing a programme for dentists and doctors that will be launched this autumn – to begin with, in London.

In 2004, the Myers & Myers nationwide survey of 2400 GDPs  – ‘It’s Difficult Being a Dentist’ – discovered that dentistry was one of the most stressful professions.

It revealed that:
• a high percentage of NHS dentistry was associated with high levels of stress in GDPs’ lives
• stress in dentists was related to job dissatisfaction, time pressure and problems associated with staff and technical issues
• a comparatively large number of dentists reported high levels of psychological stress symptoms
• health behaviours such as alcohol use was associated with dentists’ work stress.

Professor Alastair Scotland, Director of NCAS, said: ‘A practitioner’s poor health can impact greatly on patient safety. This programme will protect that safety by supporting the health of practitioners.

‘The tendency for doctors and dentists is often to manage their own health problems themselves, to self-medicate, to chat informally to a colleague, rather than to seek a proper consultation and treatment.
‘We need to change that culture so that practitioners, like everyone else, feel able to access highly professional and confidential care.’

The new service will provide advice on accessing local services and will provide treatment where local services are unable to meet practitioners’ needs.

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