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Plans to give staff immediate access to dedicated mental health support will be considered as part of the upcoming workforce implementation plan, The Department of Health and Social Care has announced.
New support will be based on recommendations by Health Education England (HEE) in its recent report on the mental health and wellbeing of NHS staff and learners.
The ‘workforce implementation plan’, will be led by NHS Improvement Chair Dido Harding and Leeds Teaching Hospitals Trust Chief Executive Julian Hartley.
The latest NHS staff survey showed that less than a third of staff felt their organisation took positive action towards improving their health and wellbeing. New support for NHS staff, which should help make positive progress on sickness absence rates, staff performance and retention, could include:
• post-incident support for NHS frontline staff, such as peer group support or a more formal psychological assessment
• a dedicated mental health support service giving confidential advice and support 24 hours a day
• fast-tracked mental health referrals for NHS employees if requested as a priority from either a GP or an occupational health clinician
• improved rest spaces for on-call staff and trainees during and after their shifts, providing security, shower facilities and refreshments
• an ‘NHS workforce wellbeing guardian’ in every NHS organisation, responsible for championing mental health and wellbeing support for staff
HEE spoke to staff whose wellbeing had been affected by their experiences in the NHS workplace, as well family members who had lost relatives through suicide. They also visited organisations that are already demonstrating good practice in supporting staff mental and physical wellbeing to understand how these initiatives could be rolled out across the NHS.
The latest NHS staff survey showed that less than a third of staff felt their organisation took positive action towards improving their health and wellbeing.
Professor Ian Cumming, Chief Executive of Health Education England, said:
"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. More support is needed for those who care and better care is needed for those studying to become healthcare professionals. This is why I am committed to making sure that the commission takes full advantage of this opportunity to make a real difference to the NHS health and care workforce and to those studying to become our future healthcare staff."
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