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Employers across the National Health Service are responsible for protecting the mental health of their staff. This has been identified as a priority in the interim NHS People Plan, published on 3 June, which says “we will develop a new offer with our people setting out explicitly the support they can expect from the NHS as a modern employer”….“Ensuring everyone feels they have voice, control and influence, including a focus on (amongst other issues) staff physical and mental health and wellbeing and reducing sickness absence”.
This new offer will be developed over the summer and published in the final People Plan after the Government’s spending review later this year. It is expected to address the staffing pressures causing stress and burnout by implementing recommendations from the recent Health Education England report on NHS staff and learner wellbeing, which set out some of the most serious causes of harm to our people’s mental health and wellbeing. Staff can already report working excess hours via their employer’s “Guardian of Safe Practice”.
The interim People Plan will build on the good work already underway across the NHS to protect staff mental health through the NHS staff health and wellbeing framework which helps organisations diagnose and implement services to meet staff needs including, for example, counselling and talking therapies to support their mental health.
The Framework and NHS Improvement’s NHS staff health and wellbeing collaborative of 73 trusts are incorporating the core and enhanced mental health standards from ‘Thriving at Work – a review of mental health and employers’ commissioned by the Government from the mental health charity MIND.
NHS England’s 2017/19 Commissioning for Quality and Innovation (CQUIN) incentive scheme has also been encouraging organisations to put in place appropriate interventions to support staff mental health based on improvements to the NHS Staff Survey question: “During the last 12 months have you felt unwell as a result of work related stress?” with providers expected to achieve an improvement of 5% points in the answer “no” compared to baseline staff survey results or achieve 75% of staff surveyed answering “no”.
The Department, over a number of years, has commissioned NHS Employers to provide a wide range of advice, guidance and good practice to support trusts in maintaining and improving their staff mental health and wellbeing.