Health: help for doctors and dentists

Doctors and dentists do not always make good patients and sometimes have their own rules regarding their personal ill health management. Worries about letting down colleagues can contribute to difficulties.

You will need to give your employer a fit note from your doctor after the seventh calendar day of sickness.

Health information for trainees

The BMA website provides links to national sources of help for eg illness, stress, distress, depression and addiction 

Recommendations for doctors and dentists with health problems

  • Avoid self-investigation and self-medication.
  • Avoid seeking specialist advice from medical colleagues - this can place your professional colleagues in a difficult position.
  • Register with a GP, make appropriate appointments to see them and provide sick certificates as required .  Most GPs have arrangements to see acutely ill patients on the same day. You may also be able to speak to one of the practice GPs on the phone. 
  • Do not work if ill - you may infect others and your reduced performance may be more dangerous for patients than you realise.
  • Remember that doctors and dentist are no less vulnerable than others to physical and psychological health problems, including stress and depression. Be aware how acute and chronic illness and stress can affect your performance as a doctor.
  • The slow development of a physical problem such as intention tremor, deafness or poor eyesight may gradually be affecting your ability to do some parts of your work effectively. Many doctors and dentists in this situation develop ways of working round their problems which can increase personal stress levels. Appraisal is an opportunity to discuss these issues in confidence but the more open you are able to be with your colleagues the less room there is for misunderstanding. Occupational Health can provide help to adjust your working environment and/or job description.
  • If you have long term or recurrent short term sickness absence, ask to be referred to Occupational Health, who can request reports (with your permission) from your GP, are well placed to liaise with your medical director, and can pro-actively manage a gradual return to work. Occupational Health can also provide a range of support and help if you have a chronic disabling condition.
  • If you have to make adjustments to your career because of ill health or a disability, the Career Development Unit can offer career guidance and resources. Self-refer on psu@thamesvalley.hee.nhs.uk.