MDU expands peer support service to aid emotionally drained workforce

The Medical Defence Union (MDU) has expanded its peer support service to come to the aid of more healthcare professionals in distress.

Launched in 2020 to help doctors undergoing GMC investigations, the service has now been expanded to include other medico-legal matters. These include inquests, complex complaints and claims. Dental members involved in GDC cases can now access peer support for the first time.

Making the announcement as the MDU published its annual report for 2022, Dr Matthew Lee, MDU chief executive, said:

“The MDU’s peer support programme connects members who are struggling with a complex medico-legal matter with a colleague who has been through a similar process. These colleagues offer personal support, guidance and reassurance.

“Members have told us time and again that dealing with incidents can impact both their professional and personal lives. And that having a conversation with a colleague who has been through something similar and come out of the other side, can be a huge comfort.

“For example, one member told us: ‘As well as legal advice it would be good to have access to practical support, be that peer support or a counsellor.’ We are delighted to be able to extend the peer support programme so that more members will have someone to talk to at a difficult time.”

Dr Simon Watkin, MDU president said:

“Members needing our help tell us they have received expert assistance throughout, and this means a lot to us. As well as the peer support programme, our dedicated team of medico and dento-legal advisers took over 21,000 calls on our advice lines in 2022.

“As a mutual, defence organisation we are owned and led by healthcare professionals who know what it’s like to be on the frontline of patient care. The steady growth in members we have seen in 2022 is testament to these strengths.”

Further results highlighted in the MDU’s annual report for 2022 include:

  • MDU solicitors representing medical members in Medical Practitioner Tribunal service (MPTS) cases between 2017-21 achieved no finding of impairment in over 40% of cases. The equivalent MPTS figure for outcomes overall is 25%.
  • During 2022, we closed 82% of medical claims without a payment of damages. In total, where cases made it to trial, we had a success rate of 60%.
  • 99% of calls to our medico and dento legal advice lines were answered within 20 seconds.