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Free wellbeing helpline extended to thousands of practice staff

by Julie Griffiths
31 May 2023

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GP practice staff can now access free emotional wellbeing support from the Medical and Dental Defence Union of Scotland (MDDUS) after it extended its confidential service for doctors to include those they employ.

The UK-wide medical defence organisation decided to widen the service in response to the rise in incidents of verbal abuse levelled at staff in GP and dental practices.

The free and confidential Your Halo: Emotional Wellbeing phone line will be available to practice staff who are wholly or jointly employed by an MDDUS member. The phone line, launched in 2021 for healthcare professionals, offers 24/7 support with no limit on its use.

Through it, practice staff can access experienced professionals and a variety of treatment pathways. These include self-help and online resources, such as Cognitive Behavioural Therapy and talking therapies.

It is estimated that 10,400 frontline staff in medical and dental practices will benefit from the change.

 A survey of MDDUS members published last year had found that 38% of GPs had seen a significant increase in verbal abuse towards themselves and their practice staff following Covid-19.

A separate survey published earlier this year found that three-quarters of GPs said they and their staff experience verbal abuse from patients on a weekly basis.

Dr Naeem Nazem, head of the medical division at MDDUS, said receptionists often bore the brunt of unacceptable behaviour from patients.

‘This can take its toll on the mental and physical health of employees.  We are encouraging practices and teams not to suffer in silence. Our round-the-clock service is there for when they need it,’ he said.

Meanwhile, our sister publication Healthcare Leader reported the closure of a third of the 41 mental health hubs set up to support NHS staff, leaving an estimated 1 million staff without help.

A further seven of the specialist hubs, which opened during the Covid-19 pandemic, have less than a year’s funding available, leaving thousands more staff at risk of losing out.

Last year, Management in Practice launched a campaign to #KeepYourPracticeSafe as more GP practices across the country faced abuse.