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Mental health support scheme ignores nurses

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A pilot scheme to support doctors and dentists who have mental health or addiction problems should be extended to include nurses, campaigners have said.

The government-funded scheme, announced at the end of last month, will be run by the National Clinical Assessment Service, a division of the National Patient Safety Agency, which deals with concerns over doctors and dentists who are performing poorly.

The programme will be piloted for three years in the London strategic health authority area and will also include support for physical health problems if these are causing issues with work performance.

But Julie Fagan, a health visitor who has spent the last two years campaigning for the remit of NCAS to be extended to include nurses, said: ‘Nurses are equally under enormous amounts of stress. It’s disappointing that yet again this service is arguably being provided to doctors and dentists because they are more expensive.’

An NCAS spokesperson said that the pilot would be evaluated at a later date to consider its ‘appropriateness’ for other health professionals.

The London pilot is part of a wider scheme, run by the government and intended to improve the health of NHS staff, which includes the trialling of ‘well-being assessments’ for nurses.

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