Last reviewed 23 April 2019

The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) has announced its intention to provide NHS staff with better support for their mental health and wellbeing.

Plans could see the introduction of a dedicated mental health support service giving confidential advice and support 24 hours a day, and post-incident support for NHS frontline staff.

The proposals are set out in the “NHS Staff and Learners’ Mental Wellbeing Commission” report (http://bit.ly/2ShYlVR) produced by Health Education England (HEE).

Other recommendations include fast-tracking mental health referrals for NHS employees if requested as a priority from either a GP or an occupational health clinician, and providing improved rest spaces for on-call staff and trainees both during and after their shifts.

However, the key recommendation concerning mental health and wellbeing is the creation of board-level NHS Workforce Wellbeing Guardians.

Every NHS organisation should create such a post, the HEE report argues, with Guardians being responsible for championing mental health and wellbeing support for staff.

Commenting on the recommendations, Professor Ian Cumming, HEE Chief Executive, said that more support is needed for those who care, while better care is needed for those studying to become healthcare professionals.

The Mental Wellbeing Commission must, he added, take full advantage of this opportunity to make a real difference to the NHS health and care workforce and to those studying to become future healthcare staff.

“It is vital that staff feel they are supported and that employers have the right procedures in place to offer all the help that may be needed,” Professor Cumming concluded. “The mental wellbeing of staff contributes positively to patient care so we must get it right.”

The recommendations are to be considered within the context of the NHS workforce implementation plan.