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Staff cried during NHS patient safety interviews

Staff cried during NHS patient safety interviews
By Jess Hacker
27 February 2023

NHS staff are experiencing ‘significant distress’ from not being able to care for people as well as they would hope to, a health watchdog has said.

According to the Healthcare Safety Investigation Branch (HSIB), NHS staff ‘cried or displayed extreme emotion’ when talking about their work environment during interviews for its investigation into delays in transferring patients.

And a health psychologist who specialises in moral injury advised the HSIB that continued challenges in getting patients to the right place of care ‘will lead to further deteriorations in staff wellbeing’.

The watchdog has now recommended that staff health and wellbeing form a ‘critical component of patient safety’ in the NHS Patient Safety Strategy.

In its interim report – published today (27 February) – the HSIB found that staff felt the wellbeing support offered by their employer was only prioritised ‘when there was time to do so’ and that it often came too late.

The current approach to staff wellbeing is too reactive and relies on staff coming forward, the watchdog said.

Neil Alexander, lead investigator, said: ‘The investigation was given many accounts, across the healthcare system, of wellbeing impacts on individuals and teams. The recommendation we made is aimed at ensuring the intrinsic link between patient safety and staff wellbeing is captured at a national level. We recognise that until there is a whole system response to the challenges in urgent care, staff will continue to face issues.

‘However, in the shorter-term, staff and a health psychologist have told us that in these difficult times, it is important that they are given the time and space to engage in reflective practice and get support from people with expertise in staff wellbeing’

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