2015 DSN events


2015 DSN AGM & Conference

Saturday 28th November 2015 at The Retreat, York

11.00 Assessing the Impact of Stigma on Doctors with Mental Illness:
​Results of 2014 Survey
​Dr Louise Freeman, Vice-Chair, DSN

11.30 Annual General Meeting
14.00 The Tuke Centre
Ms Kim Bevan, Outpatient Manager, the Retreat
Doctors' Support Network 2016 The Retreat, York mental health
The Retreat, York

Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons 'Medical Minds Matter'

Wednesday 28th October 2015 at the ORTUS learning and events centre, London

By Dr Louise Freeman

This event was part of the ‘Mind Matters Initiative' run by the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons. The event aimed to ‘better understand the mental health challenges affecting the medical professions, and facilitate the sharing of learning and best practice around supporting individuals and addressing the issues.’ This project is particularly interesting in that it aims to involve veterinary medicine, human medicine, pharmacy and dentistry. 
The first presentation was by Dr Brian McErlean from the One Life Suicide Prevention Project in Australia. He outlined the project which aims to intervene before a crisis which in vets is sadly often a completed suicide. After sessions from the Pharmacists’ and Dentists’ Support programmes, ​I gave a short talk about DSN referencing the recent stigma survey to show that there was still a problem. 
Doctors' Support Network 2016 GMC conference 2015 mental health
Dr Louise Freeman at 'Medical Minds Matter'
I then attended a workshop on peer support and resilience building led by Neil Greenberg, Professor of Defence Mental Health from King's College London. This was interesting in that it showed that in the UK forces, limited training of all ranks was effective in facilitating people asking for help at an earlier stage with a mental health problem.
Resilience came up again after lunch in a panel discussion when the topic of whether it is possible to select for resilience when students apply for the healthcare professions. A veterinary medicine researcher made the interesting point that for vets this issue has been much evaluated. The conclusion was that it was not particularly effective, very expensive to provide and that it was a better use of resources to use the money for providing support for mental health. I also contributed a ‘Lived Experience’ session to the programme.

This was an excellent day with the only disappointing finding for me being that overall, doctors seemed to have more difficulty in admitting to a mental health problem than the other professions – which is not good news for anyone…

2015 BMJ Careers Fair

Doctors' Support Network 2016 BMJ Careers fair 2015 DSN stand mental health
DSN again had a stand at the 2015 BMJ Careers Fair.  We had lots of visitors - some already knowing about DSN and others not.  It was apparent that many people were feeling more stress than usual compared to other careers fairs that we have attended.

2015 GMC Conference: Creating a Culture of Openness, Safety and Compassion 

Monday 16th March 2015, London

10:30 Welcome and opening keynote speech 
Professor Terence Stephenson, Chair, General Medical Council

11:15 Workshops
Concerns about doctors – working with others to continue being fair, while achieving a more focused and faster outcome.
12:45 Opening of poster exhibition

14:00 Workshops
Differential attainment: understanding variations in performance in exams and training
Doctors' Support Network 2016 GMC conference 2015 mental health
Professor Terence Stephenson introducing the day
15:30 Keynote panel discussion: how can we create a culture of openness, safety and compassion? 
Panellists include:
  • Caroline Abrahams, Charity Director, Age UK
  • Niall Dickson, Chief Executive and Registrar, General Medical Council
  • Dr Mike Durkin, National Director of Patient Safety, NHS England
  • Dr Clare Gerada, Medical Director, Practitioner Health Programme
  • Dr Tim Ojo, Executive Medical Director and Responsible Officer, Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust
  • Professor Craig White, Divisional Clinical Lead, Health Quality & Strategy Directorate, Scottish Government

Royal College of Surgeons 'Women in Surgery' Senior Women's Day

By Dr Louise Freeman
The mission of Women in Surgery is to encourage, enable and inspire women to fulfil their surgical ambitions. As part of this remit, the college held a Senior Women’s Day on 6th February 2015 in London. The Doctors’ Support Network (DSN) was asked to contribute to the opening session entitled ‘Life events; Getting through and going forwards’. A series of short talks followed covering diverse topics such as the financial implications of divorce, ill health in offspring and the opening address from the clinical psychologist Tanya Byron. Tanya spoke eloquently on the resilience and skills and strengths needed when things go wrong. I spoke for DSN on ‘How to save your own (professional) life’ in which I covered general advice for doctors with a mental health diagnosis. The keynote speaker before lunch was designer Amanda Wakeley herself (in whose salon we were). Amanda spoke about her own business career with its challenging financial crunch points and impressive recovery to owning a London salon.
Doctors' Support Network 2016 RCS Women in Surgery mental health
The first session after lunch was devoted to “Professional Issues; Surviving Clinical Concerns’. The RCS Invited Review process was explained – new to me – in which a surgical department can request an objective review of their practice in order to address issues such as patient safety or service delivery. This session was followed by a medical director, who spoke on the stresses of working in a struggling organisation. A questions and answer panel followed in which the small audience made for a fascinating discussion conducted under the Chatham House Rule i.e. attendees are asked not to reveal the identity of speakers when discussing issues after the event. 
The day concluded with ‘Presenting Yourself; The Media Mine-Field’. The online world was specifically discussed with a PR consultant advising great care over what one should reveal on Facebook / Twitter etc. And finally Jane Garvey, presenter of Woman’s Hour, spoke entertainingly (with no notes) on how to handle the media. Her top tip was that just because they ask you, you don’t have to speak on the radio/ appear on television. “You can just say no.” The day was rounded off with canapés, champagne and a fashion show in the salon. 
Overall, the day was a great experience. The delegates were very interested to hear about DSN and I was pleased to talk to most of the attendees during the breaks. I was delighted with the level of interest in this group of doctors and found it very encouraging that the college had invited us to contribute.
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