06 June 2017

Health professionals, medical colleges and health services will discuss ways to better support junior doctors at a groundbreaking forum in Sydney today.

Health Minister Brad Hazzard ordered the JMO Wellbeing and Support Forum after concerns were raised about the pressures felt by young doctors.

“In my discussions with young doctors, it has hit home to me that the system is not working as well as it should to protect them, particularly those in specialty training programs,” Mr Hazzard said.

“This is a cultural issue that goes back decades. It is likely that there is a need to make sure that more experienced doctors, who are supervising those in training, recognise how to support their junior colleagues and help them in difficult times.

“Colleges may also need to take steps to relieve the pressure on trainee doctors, who are working long hours.

“Junior doctors are also concerned that they may be reported if they consult a doctor about mental health issues.”

A 2013 National Mental Health Survey of Doctors and Medical Students found that doctors reported substantially higher rates of psychological distress and attempted suicide compared with other Australian professionals.

Minister for Mental Health Tanya Davies said the forum was an opportunity to gather expert advice to assist in the development of NSW Health’s plan to improve and expand support mechanisms for junior doctors.

“I’m concerned some young doctors are feeling alone and under pressure. They have worked hard to get where they are and we need to ensure that they have people to turn to and effective supports when things get tough,” Mrs Davies said.

The NSW Government has invested $1.8 billion for mental health services in 2016- 17, including $7.1 million for suicide prevention and clinical care.

More than 200 participants have been invited to the forum, representing doctors, colleges, mental health and suicide prevention experts and health organisations.​​