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RCN joins calls for increased funding for psychological support for NHS staff

The RCN have signed a letter written by the British Psychological Society (BPS) to express concerns about provision of psychological and wellbeing support for NHS staff

The letter is addressed to Steve Barclay, health secretary and NHS England and states that the levels of funding for staff mental health provision are not sufficient. According to data on the operation of NHS staff mental health and wellbeing hubs, the level of funding pledged by the government is inadequate to ensure that staff are sufficiently supported.

Health organisations have highlighted that just 2.3m has been allocated for funding for staff mental health support for the remainder of 2023/24.

The letter follows reports from the RCN, back in March, which found that over a third of mental health hubs have been closed despite an ‘escalating mental health crisis among nurses’.

The most recent data on staff sickness from NHS England shows that more than 1.5 million nurse and health visitor days were lost in 2022 due to anxiety, stress, depression and other psychiatric illness. On average, this amounts to one in every five sickness days being caused by mental health issues.

The hubs were set up to provide rapid access to free, confidential assessment and local mental health services and support.

Patricia Marquis, RCN Director of England said: ‘There is a stress and anxiety crisis in this profession – across the NHS and social care – as professionals try to cope and do more with less. When nursing staff need mental health support, they deserve it and should not face barriers and delays.

‘If nursing staff can’t access support, how are they going to support their patients? Unsafe staffing levels are putting patients at risk while emotionally draining the nursing staff who are desperately trying to provide the best care they can.

‘The government needs to understand that when you invest in nursing staff – including their mental health – you’re investing in patients, their safety and a healthier society.’