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Make suicide awareness training mandatory, says RCN

The RCN has backed a call for suicide awareness training to be made mandatory for all health professionals.
Ian_Hulatt©DG_363.jpg

The RCN has backed a call for suicide awareness training to be made mandatory for all health professionals.

A report published last week from Parliament's Health Select Committee has called the current rate of suicide in England 'unacceptable'.

While they primarily recommend the General Medical Council and Royal College of GPs lead the way in boosting doctors awareness of suicide risk, it also called on Health Education England (HEE) to improve training for all healthcare students.

RCN professional lead for mental health Ian Hulatt said: 'The report exposes the gap between government rhetoric and action.

Alarming figures

'The funding is not getting through and little is known about the quality of local plans or their ability to reach the

The RCN has backed a call for suicide awareness training to be made mandatory for all health professionals.


RCN professional lead for mental health Ian Hulatt. Picture: David Gee

A report published last week from Parliament's Health Select Committee has called the current rate of suicide in England 'unacceptable'.

While they primarily recommend the General Medical Council and Royal College of GPs lead the way in boosting doctors awareness of suicide risk, it also called on Health Education England (HEE) to improve training for all healthcare students.

RCN professional lead for mental health Ian Hulatt said: 'The report exposes the gap between government rhetoric and action.

Alarming figures 

'The funding is not getting through and little is known about the quality of local plans or their ability to reach the people who need support.

'The government must go further and make suicide awareness training mandatory for health professionals working with high risk groups, beginning with training before registration.'

The MPs on the committee heard in evidence sessions in November and January that about a third of people who ended their lives by suicide were in contact with their GP before their death, but were not accessing specialist mental health services.

They were also told only 60% of people who presented at emergency departments for self-harm received a psycho-social assessment.

Prioritise strategy 

Mr Hulatt added: 'Nurses themselves are a high risk group, due to the strain and responsibility of their role.

'Sadly, this situation is being exacerbated by the pressure on the NHS and thousands of unfilled nursing jobs.'

Committee chair Sarah Wollaston MP, added: 'The current rate of suicide is unacceptable and is likely to under-represent the true scale of the loss of life.

'The government must prioritise effective implementation of its strategy.'

'Record' funding 

In 2015, there were 4,820 people recorded as having died by suicide in England, but MPs said the figure is likely to be ‘much higher’.

Health secretary Jeremy Hunt responded: 'We are taking action to ensure we quality-assure every local plan so they reach the most vulnerable people.

'Local authorities now are supported by record mental health funding, with big developments in the availability and quality of crisis care services as a result.'


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