AN OXFORDSHIRE psychiatrist has warned more funding and resources must be put into mental health services to take care of all those impacted by the coronavirus pandemic, including frontline NHS staff.

Dr Andrew Molodynski, who is also the British Medical Association's mental health policy lead, said mental health had received 'worryingly little attention' as part of the government's coronavirus lockdown exit strategy.

He said: "Distressing events such as the current pandemic can cause long-lasting anxiety disorders such as post-traumatic stress disorder, with up to one in every three people affected.

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"Given the far-reaching impact of this virus – on those whose livelihoods have been indirectly affected as well as those who have caught it – this number is likely to be very high."

The consultant psychiatrist said there were approximately 1.5 million people employed by the NHS across the UK, while a further 1.6 million work in adult social care.

Oxford Mail:

Dr Andrew Molodynski

He added: "The majority of this workforce has been under intense pressure for the last six weeks, working long hours, and witnessing heart-rending scenes on a daily basis.

"Consequently, it’s reasonable to estimate that a significant number of this workforce will experience, or are already experiencing, tangible negative mental health side effects."

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A recent survey conducted by the BMA found that 45 per cent of doctors and medical students in the South Central region were currently suffering from a broad range of psychological and emotional conditions.

Dr Molodynski said: “As the BMA’s mental health policy lead, these statistics are greatly alarming.

"Our health workers are working extraordinarily hard to care for us, the least we can do is guarantee their basic wellbeing."

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Nurse in PPE at a care home in Nottingham. Credit AP Photo Frank Augstein

Dr Molodynski added it was not just those on the frontline who would be impacted, explaining: "From children missing out on schooling and regular interactions with their peer group to women trapped in abusive environments to people who have lost their jobs as a result of the economic downturn, there is a large portion of the population whose mental health has suffered, and will continue to suffer, at the hands of this pandemic."

He said new cases signalled that the strain on 'our already overstretched and underfunded mental health services' in the coming months and years would be 'severe'.

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Dr Molodynski added while the NHS hadn't yet been a substantial increase in mental health-related primary care referrals this was likely down to an overall reduction in patients seeking treatment during the outbreak.

He predicted an influx of mental health cases as the number of Covid-19 cases continues to decline.

He said: "We are already behind with the planning. Unless the government acts now and develops a concrete proposal which includes more funding, additional resources, and greater thinking around technical solutions to this issue then those seeking treatment for mental health related illnesses post-Covid-19 will be waiting a very long time to be seen."