Doctors are addicted to 'every drug under the sun'

By Kate Devlin, Medical Correspondent
Published: 1:27PM GMT 29 Jan 2010

 

In its first year the clinic has treated NHS staff hooked on drugs including heroin, ketamine, a horse tranquilliser, and methadrone, a drug linked to amphetamines, said Dr Clare Gerada, medical director of the Practitioner Health Programme.

The service also uncovered six cases of undiagnosed psychosis, in which sufferers see things or hear voices.

The clinic was set up amid fears many health professionals were treating themselves or avoiding their local GP or hospital because of worries colleagues could learn of their health problems.

Overall, two of the doctors and dentists treated were reported to to the General Medical Council (GMC), because of fears that they could be putting patients in danger.

Another six were encouraged to report themselves to the regulator.

So far the service has operated only in London but there are plans to roll it out across the country, starting initially in Newcastle.

Two thirds of the 184 treated in the first 12 months had mental health problems, while one in three who came to the specialist service had some form of addiction.

Of these 51 were alcoholics and 16 drug addicts.

Dr Gerada said: “We are seeing every drug under the sun.

“Ketamine, methadrone, amphetamines, heroin, every drug you have ever heard of is coming through the door.”

The service has also treated unexpectedly high numbers of paediatricians, anaesthetists and psychiatrists.

The stress of the jobs, easy access to drugs, and the extra stigma attached to psychiatrists suffering from mental health problems could be reasons for the high demand, Dr Gerada said.

More than 80 per cent of those treated for drug or alcohol addictions were now sober, the first report on the service shows.

Prof Sir Liam Donaldson, the Chief Medical Officer for England, praised the success of the scheme.

“It has uncovered problems that would otherwise not have been seen and the interventions been highly effective,” he said.

 

Isn't that great.

Published: February 10 2010

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