Medical intern deaths prompt calls for more workplace support

11 February, 2015

The sudden tragic deaths in Victoria of three medical trainees and an intern has prompted calls for there to be more support on hand in the workplace for medical professionals.

The trainee were working at St Vincent's, Austin and Frankston hospitals, whilst the intern was one week into their program at Geelong Hospital.

Beyond Blue's doctors' mental health program chairman Dr Mukesh Haikerwal said there's been an ongoing concern about the lack of support systems in place for those who need help.

"Just because you are a training or training-to-be medical professional does not mean that you are immune from [mental health problems]," he said.

"You do need to seek help. You need to have help. You need to have systems in the workplace."

A 2013 study conducted by Beyond Blue of doctors and medical students found there to be particularly high levels of psychological distress and attempted suicide in comparison to other occupations and professionals.

Dr Haikerwal said the problem was still a "stigma", and called for more discussion on ways to prevent the problem from escalating.

"With four people in Victoria in a very short space of time dying suddenly, it opens a whole lot of additional questions about why this is happening and what can be done to reduce the drive for this to happen," he said.

10Y plan in the works

When contacted, Victorian Health Minister Martin Foley said he was unable to comment specifically on any of the deaths, but extended the government's sympathy for the victims. He said the government was working on 10-year plan for mental health.

"While I'm unable to comment on specific cases, my thoughts are with the families affected by the tragic loss of loved ones," Foley said.

"The Andrews Labor government is committed to rebuilding the mental health system after four years of neglect by the previous Liberal government.

"We strongly encourage people experiencing mental health issues to seek assistance through their mental health professional."