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Government and politics, Mental health, NHS, Work and occupational

Hear from the hubs

Hear from NHS staff mental health and wellbeing hub leads in their own words why it’s so vital the hubs’ work continues.

03 March 2023

Together with ACP-UK, we're urging the government to provide ring-fenced funding to protect the NHS staff mental health and wellbeing hubs and the essential support they provide.

Hear from NHS staff mental health and wellbeing hub leads in their own words why it's so vital the hubs' work continues.  

"I am concerned about the duty of care..."

I think it's very difficult for anyone outside of public care services to understand the extreme pressures and incredibly challenging working environments that NHS and social care staff consistently face. 

Many of these staff work above and beyond a normal working week and are exhausted, burnt out or burning out.

In some cases, staff have reported to me that they do not have time to meet their basic needs whilst at work: to eat, drink, and go to the toilet during a 12½ shift. This would be difficult for anyone to withstand.

To be clear this isn't an issue of resilience, the workforce is resilient, however, they have been placed under pressures and working conditions that are unsustainable.

High sickness rates and high staff turnover are well documented and a national concern.

Although we cannot change the environments staff are working in, the mental health hubs do provide a totally independent and confidential space for NHS and social care staff to seek the support they need.

We have been able to support the majority staff that come to us on sick leave to return to work. For many of the staff who have come to us who are able to remain in work, we have helped them to stay as psychologically healthy as they can.

We've provided timely, evidenced-based psychological support. It has been incredibly rewarding to improve the psychological wellbeing of those staff who've come into our service and to know that the hub team make a difference.

Ultimately, and suggested by research in this area, this improves patient care: staff who've come through the service are in a healthier position to provide a better standard of care and more positive experiences to patients.

As a clinical lead I feel very disappointed and frustrated that funding for the hubs may be cut with limited, if any, notice.

I am concerned about the duty of care for NHS and social care staff who are a hardworking, conscientious, and diligent group of people. They are doing their level best to keep our services going and offer the best care they can in these circumstances.

To me the potential cut in funding demonstrates even further a lack of value placed on staff, our NHS, and our social care systems.


"...we are also helping their patients..."

Leading the staff wellbeing hub is the greatest privilege of my career.

We meet staff who are exhausted, burned out and thinking of leaving their jobs, and we help them recover and re-find the meaning in their work.

It is so rewarding knowing that in helping each staff member we are also helping all their current and future patients.

We also know we are saving the NHS money to invest in other services by reducing staff sickness and other problems caused by unwell staff.


"...we need to be cared for too..."

Working in health and care can be the most amazing privilege. We get to support people going through the toughest of experiences and see the best of human kindness. 

But witnessing death, suffering and trauma is psychologically demanding. It has an impact that lasts. Sometimes that impact overwhelms us and we need to be cared for too.

The hubs provided that care for staff. They ensured that those health and care staff that gave so much of themselves in the care of others were in turn cared for. They were able to access support quickly delivered by highly skilled and knowledgeable staff. 

Closing the hubs will have a profound impact on the health and care workforce. Many staff will now face lengthy waits for support.

This ultimately will place greater demand on services due to higher sickness absence but also have a knock on effect for already stretched mental health services.

But there is also the moral issue here. If staff get hurt by the work they do it seems only right that we should support them to get well again.

We can't keep asking staff to care for others if we are unwilling to care for them when they need it.


"Other avenues of support are now more inaccessible..."

Our referrals for psychological support have doubled in the last six months, now at approximately 100 per month for the region and growing.

In my opinion, this represents a culmination of a lot of factors – firstly,  as the 'crisis' period of Covid-19 has passed, the emergent cases of PTSD associated with working through the pandemic are now being experienced by many staff.

For another cohort of staff, the emergent difficulty now being experienced is one of burnout, which can have an equally devastating psychological impact.

These issues are further compounded by the cost of living crisis and strike actions across the workforce, directly impacting psychological wellbeing for a huge number of health and social care staff.

Staff support and NHS Talking Therapies services in the region are all experiencing their highest waiting times in years, which makes other avenues of support more inaccessible for our client base than they already were.

It is unimaginable that funding for wellbeing services for staff is being withdrawn at such a time - when it is needed most.