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United Kingdom, because every three weeks a family doctor commits suicide

Every three weeks, on average, a doctor commits suicide in the UK, and every year over 2 thousand family doctors are looking for help to deal with anxiety and depression and mental illnesses. The data was collected by the organization Doctors in Distress.

Some doctors have to deal with double the number of patients compared to before, because the population has increased and the number of general practitioners has decreased. Many work 12 or 14 hours a day, and feel like they can never manage their workload. Worse, they feel they can't provide a good enough standard of care because they don't have enough time. Others fear the threat of litigation.

This is reported by Telegraphwhich tells the story of Sarah Jacques, a family doctor with two children aged nine and eleven, happily married and wealthy. There had been no crisis or emergency, but her work had left her exhausted, overwhelmed. She felt trapped and, so, on August 1, 2022, she thought about committing suicide. “I was a gibbering wreck. I went to the seafront, still in my scrubs, and sat there, crying my eyes out, and trying to decide whether to throw myself into the sea or not.” And it wasn't easy for her to understand “if it was worth carrying on” and decide to return home.

It's not just the patient population that's increasing: after Covid the number of visits also increased, per person, by the family doctor. Furthermore, attacks on doctors are becoming more and more frequent. Some doctors, outside the clinics, try not to reveal their profession, for fear of being verbally attacked. Many of them could abandon their jobs (and certainly many have), but for some their work is so immutably linked to their sense of self that abandoning the profession is simply inconceivable. So they keep fighting, until suddenly they can't anymore.

The doctor Gail Milligan, 47, killed herself a few days before Sarah Jacques' crisis, on July 27: her husband Chris said that his wife worked until her death, that he spent his days off and weekends trying to manage a never-ending workloadunable to think of reducing his hours, due to what he called his “drive to care.”

When she heard about Gail Milligan, Sarah Jacques realized what was happening to her: she told her bosses that he was not in a fit condition to return to work and he never worked as a family doctor again.

According to data published by British Medical Association (Bma), the average number of patients for each full-time GP in England was 1,938 in 2015. Today it is 2,295. Over the same period, the total number of patients in England increased from 57 million to 63 million, while the number of surgeries fell from 7,623 to 6,301. Patients turn to their family doctor more and more frequently: in 1991 a patient went there on average 3.5 times a year, now 7.5.

Source: Vanity Fair

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