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Government and politics, Mental health, Work and occupational

BPS urges investment in NHS and social care staff wellbeing provision to safeguard future of health and care services

In a new report published today, the British Psychological Society has said long term funding for staff mental health and wellbeing services is fundamental to staff retention.

07 December 2023

Investment in staff mental health services, complete with consistent standards, can help tackle the workforce crisis within the NHS, and protect patient care, says the British Psychological Society.

In a new report published today, we've highlighted that long-term funding for staff mental health and wellbeing services is fundamental to staff retention and the delivery of the NHS Long Term Workforce Plan.

With many integrated care systems struggling to balance their books, the report highlights the need for standards for staff mental health provision, amid concerns that staff struggling with their mental health could face a postcode lottery to access the support they need to continue in their roles.

Learning from the NHS Staff Mental Health and Wellbeing Hubs’, aims to support health and care leaders when they make crucial decisions about future investment in local staff mental health and wellbeing services, as demand for dedicated help continues to rise.

NHS Staff Mental Health and Wellbeing Hubs were set up in February 2021 to provide health and social care staff with rapid access to mental health support, until government funding ended in March 2023.

The report outlines eight key principles and related recommendations for future staff mental health and wellbeing provision based upon learning gathered from the hubs, and the wider evidence base. Crucially, it offers valuable insight into the impact of the services on staff sickness and retention, as well as the cost-benefits of effective workforce mental health support.

The report also seeks to help close the knowledge gap within staff mental health and wellbeing, given that the hubs were set up at pace during the pandemic, and many were forced to close at pace when government funding was withdrawn.

The British Psychological Society is urging the government to commit to further funding for staff mental health and wellbeing services to complement local long-term investment and support the delivery of the NHS Long Term Workforce Plan.

Dr Roman Raczka, President-Elect of the British Psychological Society, said: 

“The need for mental health and wellbeing support for NHS and social care staff didn’t begin with the pandemic, and it hasn’t ended with it. Staff sickness absence for mental health reasons remains worryingly high. We are in a well-documented workforce retention crisis, and patient safety is an ongoing concern.

“The creation of the NHS Staff Mental Health and Wellbeing Hubs saw a period of significant investment and innovation in staff mental health and wellbeing services, so it was vital that learning from them was not lost. I hope the eight guiding principles and recommendations outlined in this report will be a useful tool to support decision-making around future provision. 

“The ambitious measures set out in the NHS Long Term Workforce Plan are not a quick fix. Existing and future staff members deserve to work in an environment that gives them the support they need, to provide the safe, high-quality care they as health and care professionals are proud to give.

"Put simply, NHS and social care employers cannot afford to ignore the mental health needs of their workforce, if they wish to create a system that’s fit for the future.”

The report also includes examples of different hub service models; a case study from a health and care partnership, and an evaluation of a new four-session consultation model introduced by the Stronger Together hub in Northamptonshire, which may help inform future service design and delivery.

Download the full report 

Download the report summary