The Commission on the Mental Wellbeing of NHS Staff and Learners has launched its Developing People for Health and Healthcare report for Health Education England (HEE).

The Commission’s stated aim in its inquiry was “to see an NHS where staff and learners are happy and feel fulfilled in their work, where they look forward to going to work and are proud of the care they provide to their patients”.

The recommendations made in the report, which was commissioned by the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) last year, will be considered as part of arrangements to develop the Workforce Implementation Plan which is underway and will be published in April.

The report stated that there was good evidence that happy staff are more compassionate and provide safer care.

The document proposes to give staff immediate access to dedicated mental health support, including 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; and an “NHS workforce wellbeing guardian” in every NHS organisation, responsible for championing mental health and wellbeing support for staff.

The DHSC said the measures should help NHS organisations to make positive progress on sickness absence rates, staff performance and retention. NHS sickness absence rates are currently at least 4.5% per annum and estimated to cost £1.1 billion; and 350,000 people left the NHS for reasons other than age retirement over the past five years with leaver rates rising from 5.7% in 2012–2013 to 6.7% in 2017–2018.

Health and Social Care Secretary Matt Hancock said: “I’m so proud of the service NHS staff give, so the mental and physical wellbeing of the people who work in our health service must be our utmost priority. 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.

“NHS staff have been there for me, and they have been there for my family — so I’m determined to make sure we are there for them too.”

The final NHS Staff and Learners’ Mental Wellbeing Commission report is available at www.hee.nhs.uk.

Last reviewed 7 March 2019