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Mental health: NHS expands support for staff

The NHS has set up 40 new dedicated support hubs for the mental health of staff, NHS England has announced

The NHS has set up 40 new dedicated support hubs for the mental health of staff, NHS England has announced.

As part of the health service response to the strain of the pandemic, staff will be offered access to services over the phone with onward referral to online and one-to-one expert help from qualified mental health clinicians, therapists, recovery workers and psychologists.

The hubs are free of charge and offer confidential advice and support to NHS staff who for the last year have cared for millions of people with coronavirus while keeping vital services like maternity, mental health and cancer care going.

‘Over the last twelve months, nursing staff have been under incredible pressure and we have seen the pandemic take its toll on their mental health. This shows why we need more services like this welcome initiative,’ said RCN England Director Mike Adams.

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‘Our members were reporting high levels of work-related stress and burnout before the pandemic began. We entered this crisis with nearly 40,000 nursing vacancies in the NHS in England alone and the last year has further highlighted the impact this has on our members’ ability to deliver safe and effective care, and their own wellbeing. The next Budget is an opportunity to invest in our workforce that cannot be wasted. Services need to be available to all nursing staff including health care workers in independent health and care services.’

NHS staff will be encouraged to reach out directly for help, but hubs will proactively contact staff groups who are most at-risk to offer them support so they get the care they need as quickly as possible.

The hubs have been modelled on the success of The Greater Manchester Resilience Hub which was set up to treat all those affected by the Manchester terrorist attack in 2017, including NHS staff.

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‘NHS staff are used to dealing with the extremes of life on a daily basis, but this year has been exceptional, and in what is likely to be the toughest year in their career, staff have put their minds and bodies to the limit treating hundreds of thousands of seriously ill-patients with Covid-19,’ said the NHS’ National Mental Health Director, Claire Murdoch.

‘So it is vital that the people that played such a big role getting this country through the pandemic are given additional support, and I would urge anyone working in the NHS whether you are a porter, a nurse, paramedic or other role to please ask for help from one of our 40 mental health support hubs as they open over the coming weeks.’