Health and Wellbeing
Doctors and dentists in training may experience difficulties and need extra help and support to perform competently and progress through their training programme. The definition of a trainee experiencing difficulty includes any trainee where the expected trajectory has or may become disturbed due to a range of factors. Early identification of difficulties, clarification of the level of concern, proper assessment, and appropriate support are essential to maintain patient safety and trainee wellbeing.
A policy document is available which covers the principles of recognition and support for doctors and dentists in training who are experiencing specific difficulties. There are numerous resources available to support trainees’ mental health and wellbeing.
This document aims to signpost trainees and trainers to the most appropriate type of support. It will also delineate the different roles of coaching, mentoring, counselling and occupational health. Whilst some of these services can be accessed on a self-referral basis, trainees are encouraged to discuss any difficulties with their educational supervisors.
Escalation of concerns:
HEE values feedback from doctors and dentists in training as this helps to facilitate learning, development, and improvement. HEE has developed a document to highlight processes for escalating concerns and outlines the hierarchy of people in place to help locally. Further information on raising concerns (including complaints) can be found here.
Mentoring and peer support:
Mentorship provides opportunities to talk with peers who can relate to situations and share similar experiences. Some trainees may find it helpful to speak with peers rather than with a more senior colleague. Mentoring and peer support can help trainees to reflect on their current abilities, set achievable goals, develop skills, and increase their self-belief.
HEEYH run a peer support scheme where trainees can be matched with another trainee who has received training in peer support. Specific peer mentorship is also available to support out of programme trainees in their return to training via SuppoRTT.
Coaching provides dedicated time to problem solve challenging scenarios with the support of a coach. The coach will not provide judgement or advice but instead will use a range of skills such as active listening, reflection, and goal formation to encourage the trainee to consider alternative perspectives and identify barriers to change. This will help the trainees to reach a conclusion that is helpful and meaningful to them. Coaching can be useful to help manage a range of problems such as burnout, lack of resilience, and to develop leadership potential.
Trainees can register their interest for the HEEYH coaching programme online. Once registration has been approved, trainees can approach their preferred coach directly. Coaching sessions usually last between 60 and 90 minutes and trainees can access between 4 and 6 free sessions with a coach.
Counselling focuses on helping individuals to improve their mental health and wellbeing through coping mechanisms. Trust workplace wellbeing services offer confidential and free counselling, short-term therapy, and consultation for staff with work-related or personal issues. This is provided by a team of appropriately qualified psychological therapists with experience of the NHS and its contexts. Staff can refer themselves to the service for a wide range of issues including: stress, relationship difficulties (at work or home), traumatic or critical incidents, returning to work after a period of absence, anxiety and worry, depression, bereavement, bullying and harassment, and formal or informal procedures at work.
North of Deanery trainees can access Take Time, a confidential service specifically for junior doctors and dentists within HEEYH, via self-referral. South of Deanery trainees can access one-to-one counselling on a self-referral basis from Workplace Wellbeing.
Occupational health forms a core component of the employer’s services and is essential in scenarios where there is a health issue associated with the difficulty being experienced. Occupational therapy is beneficial when assistance is needed in risk assessing an activity that is impacted by health circumstances, or where help is needed to continue work activities in the presence of health-related barriers.
Whilst counselling services can be accessed directly via self-referral, those who are unclear of the appropriate support service to use when experiencing mental health related difficulties can receive guidance from the trust occupational health department. Reporting of health conditions which may impact on workplace activities is commonly a mandatory requirement of Human Resources policy to facilitate the employer’s obligations as outlined by the Health and Safety at Work Act.
This was last updated 28 October 2020.