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Psychiatrists Support Service, Royal College of Psychiatrists


Q: What is the PSS, where is it based and how can it help?

It is a confidential helpline for Psychiatrists who are Members or Associates of the College.  
It is based at the Royal College of Psychiatrists at the main College headquarters in Belgrave Square.
The PSS provides psychiatrists in professional difficulty with advice, support and signposting over the telephone.  Professional difficulty refers to issues such as:
o Addictions
o Career pathway problems
o Disciplinary issues
o Examinations
o General Medical Council or NCAS involvement
(This is not an exhaustive list)

Q: If a psychiatrist wanted to seek help and support, what happens next?

They call the telephone helpline number which is 0207 245 0412 and speak to the PSS Manager who fields all the calls into the service.  After the doctor has been verified as a College member, and been informed about what the service can/cannot provide, as well as information about data protection and confidentiality, they discuss their case on an individual basis with the service manager.

The case is discussed with the Associate Registrar as soon as possible and a decision is made about the most appropriate course of action for their particular case.  This includes:
o Signposting to an appropriate service and providing the contact details to the doctor.
o Finding out information about an issue from another College department such as the examinations or professional standards department.
o Being sent a copy of an information guide on a specific issue that the PSS Committee have developed, this may be on bullying and harassment, coping with complaints, or dealing with external reviews, inquiries and investigations.
o Being put in touch with a doctor adviser from the PSS who can provide focused support and advice over the telephone at a mutually convenient time.
o The service manager is the main contact point between the doctor who has called the service and the various routes of help and support.

Q: What about confidentiality issues?

All doctors are informed that the service is confidential.  However, if they disclose an issue that threatens personal or professional safety, the Royal College of Psychiatrists have a professional duty of care to report this to the appropriate agency/organisation.  Doctors who contact the service are made aware of this.

Q: What sort of issues are typically raised with the PSS and what sort of help can be given?

The service deals with a number of issues, but perhaps the most common is that of dealing with difficult colleagues and difficult working relationships.  Currently, the service is developing an information guide for this specific issue.  Usually, the doctor who contacts the service welcomes the opportunity of discussing the issue with another psychiatrist (doctor-adviser) to support and advise on their difficult situation.

Q: Have you had any feedback from users of the service?  How has it been able to make a difference?

The feedback we receive is positive.  Psychiatrists value being able to discuss their difficult situation with someone who takes the time to listen.  They appreciate the speediness at which we respond to their calls and cases and feel positively about being able to contact the service as their case progresses and develops.

Q: Are there any plans for future development of the PSS?

There are no specific plans at present.  However, the core Committee of the PSS are currently discussing any future development plans. 

Q: How does the service link in with other services available to support doctors?

Through its work, the Psychiatrists Support Service has excellent links with the General Medical Council, the British Medical Association and the National Clinical Assessment Service.  A large part of our service includes signposting to other relevant services to support doctors.  Therefore, we aim to keep abreast of any local and national developments in this field.  Our resource booklet (available on request) contains a variety of organisations and services that we signpost to.  We know from some of the calls we receive, that doctors have been signposted to us from other services and organisations.

Q: Where can doctors access further information about the service?

The service is aimed at psychiatrists who are members of the College.  They can access further information by contacting the service by:
o Contacting 0207 245 0412
o Emailing
o Accessing our web pages on

Q: How do you recruit doctors to become doctor-advisers for the service?

We are not currently recruiting doctor advisers.  However, if doctors are keen to help us, we ask them to write to use with their CV and a covering letter about their experience in helping doctors in difficult situations.  We keep these on file and contact the doctors when the need arises.  All doctors working for the service will be interviewed in line with College procedures.


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