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NHS staff to receive ‘fast-track’ mental health support as part of wellbeing plans

The government has pledged to provide better mental health and wellbeing support for NHS staff as part of its ‘workforce implementation plan,’ based on the recommendations of Health Education England’s (HEE) Staff and Learners’ Mental Wellbeing Commission.

Post-incident support for frontline staff, a dedicated 24-hour mental health service, and fast-tracked mental health referrals for NHS workers are just some of the recommendations being taken on by the government to improve healthcare workers’ wellbeing.

Also featured in HEE’s recommendations are to improve rest spaces for on-call staff and trainees (including shower facilities and refreshments), and a ‘wellbeing guardian’ in every NHS organisation.

The workforce implementation plan is being led by NHS Improvement chair Baroness Dido Harding and Leeds Teaching Hospitals Trust chief executive Julian Hartley. It is hoped that the new measures will have a positive impact on sickness absence rate, staff performance, and workforce retention.

The most recent NHS staff survey revealed that less than a third of staff felt their workplace had a positive approach towards improving their wellbeing. Just yesterday, an NHS worker was threatened with legal action and unfairly dismissed by an ambulance trust after he reported feeling suicidal.

Health secretary Matt Hancock said that he was proud of the service NHS staff give, saying that they have been there for him and his family, “so I’m determined to make sure we are there for them too.”

He added: “Today’s important report helps guide how we can do that, from creating the right culture of support to giving everyone somewhere to turn in the toughest times.”

Professor Ian Cumming, chief executive of HEE, commented: “If someone is looking to join the NHS, whether through education and training, an apprenticeship or direct employment, they should be able to see and feel that the health service is bringing to life the statements expressed in the NHS Constitution.”

Cumming noted that the mental wellbeing of staff contributed positively towards patient care, and recognised “that in giving care you also absorb some of the concerns and issues of the people that you are caring for.”

He added: “We must do better for those in the caring professions. And we must care better for those studying to be professionals. This commission will make that happen.”

Guest blogger Shirley O’Keeff recently wrote for NHE to argue that resilience training should be compulsory for all healthcare undergraduates.


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