NHS culture and support for staff mental health is improving, say employers in response to BBC findings

Danny Mortimer

24 / 3 / 2015 2.48pm

NHS Employers today responded to BBC reports that mental health issues and pressure are causing more NHS staff to take sick leave.

NHS Employers said that the NHS is significantly improving its culture around supporting staff wellbeing and that sickness rates have fallen slightly - but that growing pressure on the wider NHS is reflected in staff stress.

Danny Mortimer, chief executive of the NHS Employers organisation, said:

“NHS staff are now more comfortable than they were at reporting stress and mental health problems. The culture in the NHS has improved demonstrably and there is more specialist support. But we cannot be complacent as progress is uneven and the NHS must keep innovating to endure ever-growing demand on its services.

“NHS staff recently told their biggest survey that their managers are doing more to support their health and wellbeing. There are over 50 per cent more programmes supporting staff health and wellbeing now compared to 2010. The rate of sickness absence has fallen in the NHS since 2009, when the current surveys of absence began.

“In December the arms-length bodies and NHS leaders came together to pledge better staff experience and welcomed the focus on it in the NHS Five Year Forward View.

“Frontline work in the NHS is rewarding but it can be emotionally and physically challenging, so it’s vital those staff have the right support.”

Some facts:

  • The Royal College of Physicians report 'Work and wellbeing in the NHS: why staff health matters to patient care', published on 13 March 2015, said that 65 per cent of NHS trusts in England now have a plan for the health and wellbeing of their workforce, up from 41 per cent in 2010.
  • The latest annual NHS Staff Survey by NHS England was published on 24 February 2015 and completed by 255,000 staff. In it the proportion of staff who agreed or strongly agreed that ‘My immediate manager takes a positive interest in my health and wellbeing’ increased to 59 per cent, from 57 the previous year.
  • The NHS Staff Survey also reported an increase in ‘Work pressure felt by staff’ from 3.06 to 3.09 on a five-point scale.
  • NHS Health and Social Care Information Centre figures show that NHS staff sickness absence rates fell from 4.4 per cent in 2009/10 to 4.06 per cent in 2013/14.

Some examples of work by the NHS Employers organisation to help the NHS support its staff mental health:

  • Sharing numerous examples of good practice and innovation throughout the NHS.
  • Guidance on good workforce planning and skill mix, to help ensure staff are supported when they need it.
  • An Emotional Wellbeing Tool for managers in the NHS, to help bridge a gap in understanding and talking about our emotional health.
  • Guidance for managers on supporting staff who are experiencing mental health problems.
  • Work with charity MIND promoting how to stay mentally healthy at work and how to approach mental health conversations as a human rather than a clinician.
  • Delivering a hundred new ‘train the trainer’ experts to help NHS managers throughout the NHS improve their approach to mental health and wellbeing.
  • Guidance on stress at work, with the Health Safety and Wellbeing Partnership Group.

See http://www.nhsemployers.org/wellbeing for more.


Notes for editors:

  • The NHS Employers organisation is the recognised body for employers in the NHS, supporting them to put patients first. See www.nhsemployers.org for more information.
  • Follow Danny Mortimer on Twitter at @NHSE_Danny and NHS Employers on Twitter at @nhsemployers

Contact details:

If you have a media enquiry, please contact the press office:
Mike Foster
Senior Media Officer
NHS Employers
Tel: 020 7799 8671
Email: mike.foster@nhsemployers.org
For out of hours media enquiries, please contact the duty press officer on 07880 500 726.

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