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Junior doctor REBECCA OVENDEN who worked in the A&E department of Plymouth’s Derriford Hospital and for Devon Air Ambulance
ANXIETY, stress and depression were to blame for nearly half the sick days taken by doctors in central Bristol last year, according to new figures obtained through a Freedom of Information (FOI) request.

The new junior doctors contract has been imposed by the Tory Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt. Doctors came out on multiple strikes over the course of a year to oppose it. It is a contract which doctors rightly insist is unsafe as they are now working so many hours that they get extremely tired.

The FOI request also shows mental health issues and anxiety were the cause of:
• more than a third of sick days taken by doctors at Wiltshire’s two main
• one in 10 sick days in the North Bristol NHS Trust 
• more than one in six at the RUH in Bath.

A survey launched earlier in the year by the Royal College of Anaesthetists (RCoA), found that 64% of junior doctors felt their job had affected their physical health and 61% their mental health because pressures on the NHS are putting them under intolerable strain.

Rebecca Ovenden, a junior doctor whose passionate defence of the NHS was read by thousands, was found dead at her home in Devon at 9.25am on 28 March. She is the third female junior doctor who has died or gone missing in the south west of England in a year.

Dr Ovenden, 32, had worked in the A&E department of Plymouth’s Derriford Hospital and for Devon Air Ambulance. In November 2015, she had written a Facebook post about the pressures of working in an NHS hospital, which was shared more than 38,000 times.

She wrote: ‘I heard a patient’s relative comment the other night at work “we waited four hours for that”. I wish I could have turned to them and said YES! – BLESS THE NHS! It is because of the NHS you can walk into an Emergency Department at 1.35 in the morning and no matter your complaint be seen by a doctor.

‘Please don’t complain in earshot of your health care professional about waiting four hours to be seen in the middle of the night, free of charge by a doctor, with a smile on their face who has not been rude to you, who has reassured you, when the reason it took four hours to see you was because they were trying to save the life of an elderly man who had not wanted to make a fuss about a cold when he was dying of a raging chest infection.’


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