An exhausted looking doctor is looking at the camera. Her face is sore from wearing personal protection.
Government and politics, Mental health, Work and occupational

‘Breathtaking’ highlights vital need for staff mental health support

Long-term government investment in staff mental health and wellbeing services is vital.

20 February 2024

Harrowing ITV drama Breathtaking is based upon the memoir of Dr Rachel Clarke and follows the experiences of NHS medics working on the frontline of the pandemic, revealing the reality of hospital life in the face of momentous challenges.

The powerful three-part series lays bare what it was really like to work in the NHS during the pandemic, and the devastating impact it had on NHS staff’s physical and mental health.

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

“Breathtaking devastatingly conveys the mental and physical toll of working in the NHS during the pandemic, and shows why the support offered by the NHS Staff Mental Health and Wellbeing Hubs was so desperately needed.  

“Staff were having to make heartbreaking decisions in horrendous circumstances, while struggling within a system unable to keep up with the pace of the pandemic. They put their own health and wellbeing on the line to care for us, and sadly that sacrifice comes at a price. Health professionals are dealing with trauma, burnout and moral injury, and it’s vital they have access to safe, confidential services for support.

“The decision to remove funding for the vital lifeline the hubs gave NHS and care staff continues to be short-sighted, and the BPS is urging the government to provide the long-term investment in staff mental health and wellbeing services the workforce is crying out for. 

“The need for staff mental health and wellbeing support was evident before the pandemic. That help is needed now more than ever, as staff continue to struggle against a backdrop of staff shortages, high sickness absence, workforce retention issues, and unprecedented workload pressures.

“This important drama will be understandably extremely hard to watch for people bereaved by the pandemic, and health and care professionals who may find themselves reliving the trauma they experienced. I urge anybody struggling to seek support.”

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