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COVID-19: rapid mental health support for nurses as NHS pledges £15m in extra funds

ICU nurses among staff to benefit in move to combat psychological harm caused by pandemic

Chief nursing officer Ruth May said 15 million investment is a result of NHS workforce feedback

The pandemic put immense pressure on nurses, who were already dealing with long-term workplace challenges Picture: iStock

NHS nurses and healthcare staff are being promised rapid access to expanded mental health services to help them deal with the COVID-19 second wave.

NHS England and NHS Improvement will invest 15million to boost mental health support for nurses and other staff groups.

Staff, whether self or colleague-referred, will be assessed and treated rapidly by mental health specialists, NHS England and Improvement claims.

We hope this is only the start of a sustained focus on the well-being of nursing staff

Dame Donna Kinnair, RCN general secretary

The 15million

Chief nursing officer Ruth May said £15 million investment is a result of NHS workforce feedback

The pandemic put immense pressure on nurses, who were already dealing with long-term
workplace challenges Picture: iStock

NHS nurses and healthcare staff are being promised rapid access to expanded mental health services to help them deal with the COVID-19 second wave.

NHS England and NHS Improvement will invest £15million to boost mental health support for nurses and other staff groups.

Staff, whether self or colleague-referred, will be assessed and treated rapidly by mental health specialists, NHS England and Improvement claims.

‘We hope this is only the start of a sustained focus on the well-being of nursing staff’

Dame Donna Kinnair, RCN general secretary

The £15million investment is in addition to the commitments set out in the NHS People Plan, published in July. Pledges include the piloting of a series of ‘mental health hubs’ offering immediate support as well as rapid access to specialist treatment.

How this NHS staff mental health funding will be allocated

The £15 million package will help pay for:

  • A national support service for critical care staff, who are particularly exposed to risk of severe psychological trauma
  • Nationwide outreach and assessment services, in an attempt to ensure staff receive rapid access to mental health services
  • Develop well-being and psychological training for staff

Part of this money will also fund expansion of existing mental health support services and trusts will have autonomy in these funding decisions.

‘We listened to the feedback of nurses and midwives’

England chief nurse Ruth May, said: ‘I want nursing, midwifery and care colleagues to know we have listened to your feedback during Covid-19 and will continue to listen.

‘This package is designed to enhance support for your health and well-being during shifts and to provide additional mental health support when you need it.’

England’s chief nurse Ruth May

Many of the pressures nurses face existed before the pandemic, says RCN

Dame Donna Kinnair,
RCN general secretary

RCN general secretary Dame Donna Kinnair commented: ‘This pandemic has required nursing staff to show incredible dedication.

‘Employers, in all settings and sectors, must determine the impact these issues have on their staff and take action immediately,’ she said.

She made the point that many factors affecting staff well-being existed before COVID-19, such as unhealthy working patterns and a severe staff shortages.

‘We welcome this further support that recognises what healthcare staff have had to put up with, and hope this is only the start of a sustained focus on the well-being of nursing staff.’

‘Some have had to make decisions that put patients’ needs above their own. They have stayed away from friends and family, so they can keep working. They have worked longer hours in highly pressurised settings.

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