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New toolkit to reduce suicide in the NHS workforce launched

NHS England has created a national suicide prevention toolkit for England, aimed at helping NHS organisations reduce the risk of suicide in the workforce

As part of National Suicide Prevention Week, nursing staff and senior health care figures gathered at RCN headquarters in London to discuss the need for a united approach to suicide prevention in nursing.

Female nurses have a 23% higher rate of suicide than other women. At RCN Congress 2023, members voted for the RCN to lobby the government for the implementation of an integrated suicide prevention programme for the nursing workforce across the UK.

‘We should all be aware of risks of suicide because we can all take steps to prevent it. This toolkit can assist organisations to embed suicide prevention strategies in their health and wellbeing policies and guide the approach to supporting those at risk of suicide within the workforce,’ said Dr Emma Wadey, Deputy Director of Mental Health Nursing at NHS England.

The toolkit highlights key elements of a holistic workforce suicide prevention programme, including: workplaces that value employees, mental health education and training, and clear policies and procedures. It also includes guidance on how to identify health care staff at risk of suicide, and how to then respond to warning signs and support those members of staff.

‘It’s brilliant to see the progress that has already been made within the RCN as we push for implementation of an integrated suicide prevention programme for the nursing workforce. Launching the NHS England toolkit is also a great step forward, placing the plight of nursing staff and other health care professionals at the heart of national suicide prevention strategy,’ said Stephen Jones, RCN Professional Lead for Mental Health Nursing.

‘Nursing staff contribute so much to our society, but too often it comes at a personal cost. This is the start of a journey. Let’s work together to keep the momentum and do what we can to support nursing. When you support nursing staff, you’re supporting patients.’