Junior doctor suicides in the South West

A trainee surgeon has called for a full enquiry into the recent pandemic of junior doctor suicides in the South West of England.

A junior doctor has shed light on the loss of three peers in as many years, and countless others who are missing, all within the region of the South West. Concerns have been raised at how the matter is being handled by the authorities and governing bodies.

The prevalence of suicides amongst junior doctors received media attention in 2016 after the suicide of Torbay foundation doctor Rose Polge. Polge had left a note mentioning health secretary Jeremy Hunt, and raised concerns regarding the pressure of working and training as a junior doctor.

The story came to fruition amongst the protests regarding Hunt’s new contract for the doctors. New BBC research and their ‘NHS Tracker’ have put more pressure on hospitals and their staff as it was revealed this week that nowhere in the UK hit the three targets under evaluation in the tracker.

Our junior doctor source, who wishes to remain anonymous, spoke of pressures to meet targets, and how detrimental that can be to patient care. The doctor’s call an enquiry comes from a wish that awareness over suicides and the mental health of doctors is highlighted. The doctor said ”I’ve always loved my job… and the South West compared to London [for example] is such a happy place. But down here is where we have all these incidents – I can’t make that make sense.”

The British Medical Journal stated in May 2017 that ”we do not know the scale and nature of the phenomenon. There is no central system for collecting data on the number of suicides among junior doctors.” Owing to a lack of data and awareness, it is yet unknown why the pandemic seems to be affecting the South West above other regions. As more doctors come forward, there is hope amongst the profession that an investigation will be done.

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