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Three out of four NHS staff struggle with mental health

Three out of four NHS staff struggle with mental health
By Beth Gault
17 April 2024

Around 75% of staff have experienced a mental health condition in the past year, according to a survey by NHS Charities Together.

The research, undertaken by YouGov in February on behalf of the charity, found that 52% reported experiencing anxiety and 51% low mood, while 70% said stress at work has negatively impacted their mental health in the workplace.

Despite the challenges, of the 1,078 NHS staff respondents, 68% said they were unlikely to leave the NHS within the next 12 months and 79% felt proud to work there. But, two in three (69%) said that morale was the lowest they’ve ever experienced.

It comes after NHS England U-turned on their plans to cut the NHS practitioner mental health service following strong criticism from the profession.

On Friday 12 April, Practitioner Health said NHS England was undertaking a review into the support offer across all NHS staff groups to consider its ‘long term sustainable options’. This included that the service would not accept any new registrations from secondary care staff but would continue to treat existing patients.

However, the decision was strongly criticised by the sector, including by the BMA and the Doctors’ Association UK.

As a result, NHS England agreed to ‘extend the service’ for secondary care health professionals for 12 months while the review is carried out.

Ellie Orton OBE, chief executive of NHS Charities Together, said: ‘Staff working within the NHS do a hugely challenging job every day, often dealing with traumatic events most of us would never encounter. The majority of NHS staff love doing the job they do, and both NHS staff and the general public feel proud of our NHS. But the nature of the work can have a detrimental impact on their mental health, and stigma can prevent them talking about it.

Many NHS Trusts are already doing what they can to prioritise the mental health and wellbeing of our NHS staff, but it doesn’t go far enough. We will continue to work closely with NHS England and across the UK to ensure the additional support we provide for NHS staff has the most impact.

‘NHS Charities Together already funds extra support such as counselling, green spaces, helplines and wellbeing zones and we’re launching Our Support Goes Both Ways campaign to raise awareness that while those who work for the NHS have a duty to care and protect us all, we all have a responsibility to make sure those who work for the NHS are looked after too.’

Last month the health secretary was told to invest more in mental health and wellbeing services for frontline NHS and social care staff in an open letter.

Signed by 17 organisations, the letter told Victoria Atkins that not funding more support could lead to staff taking time off sick when there are already workforce shortages and retention issues.

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