Our Nursing Minds campaign to highlight the continued neglect of nurses’ mental health has sparked plenty of interest. Nursing Times followed up its own survey of nurses’ mental health with a news story on 9 April about C3’s Policy Paper.
NT’s survey had found that almost two-thirds of nurses felt their mental health had deteriorated during the pandemic and that national well-being support was still not good enough.
This was followed the next week in NT by a comment piece by Tom Sandford, author of the policy paper. Tom wrote: ‘I look forward to us all having the confidence to talk as much about the damage being done by work factors to nurses’ mental health as we have done about the damage being done by back injuries. It’s such an important message for the leaders of the NHS to hear and respond to.’
C3 this month welcomed the report from the Health and Social Care Select Committee on workforce burnout and resilience in NHS and social care which recommended: ‘The level of resources allocated to mental health support for health and care staff throughout the pandemic be maintained after the pandemic.’
A key message in C3’s paper is that the recommendation in the 2019 Pearson report that every Trust board should have an NHS Wellbeing Workforce Guardian to keep staff wellbeing high on the agenda should be implemented without delay. This was an initiative by Health Education England which is now being rolled out by NHS England/Improvement. C3 is aiming to encourage similar initiatives in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
C3’s work in highlighting this issue has been warmly welcomed by the HEE. Chief Executive Navina Evans, said: “Supporting NHS staff with their mental health and wellbeing has always been vitally important. During the pandemic, the NHS has shown innovation in effecting change quickly and effectively. Now is the time to harness this innovation and ensure that staff wellbeing is at the forefront of any action being taken to support our workforce.”
Professor Simon Gregory, HEE’s Deputy Medical Director, Primary and Integrated Care and Freedom to Speak up Guardian, who worked with Sir Keith Pearson on the report said: “Ensuring that there are board level Workforce Wellbeing Guardians in every NHS organisation will mean that staff wellbeing is a focus right from the very top. This will enable organisations to set standards, evaluate their impact and ensure a continued focus on wellbeing in the workforce.”
HEE’s Chief Nurse Professor Mark Radford added: “With mental health problems cited as the greatest cause of nurse sickness and absence, we must ensure we are doing all we can to support the wellbeing of our nurses. I’d encourage employers to consider the recommendations in the report – this will have positive impact for both the workforce and for patients.’
C3 is continuing its campaign to keep staff mental health high on the agenda and to track the development of the Wellbeing Guardian role.