25 February 2019

There was standing room only when East London NHS Foundation Trust (ELFT) hosted the launch of Health Education England's Staff and Learners’ Mental Wellbeing Commission Report on 20 February 2019. The report was introduced by the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, Matt Hancock at the Trust’s headquarters in Aldgate.

Supporting the Mental Health Wellbeing of NHS Staff
The report seeks to address the mental health and support needs of healthcare workers who work in high pressure roles, dealing with trauma, distress and emotionally charged situations. The Commission was led by Sir Keith Pearson. He and his research fellows reviewed current practice, areas of excellence and produced a series of recommendations. The event was attended by a selection of staff and apprentices who were interested to hear about the initiative.

Overwhelming Stress Results in Tragedy
Introducing the report, the Minister talked about having spent time with the family of a young doctor who took her own life because she couldn’t cope with the stress of her role. He said, "NHS staff deserve to know that they have nothing less than our full backing at all times and these measures will ensure NHS employees are supported with the day-to-day pressures of a job on the frontline of healthcare, as well as giving them a place to turn for targeted help during the toughest times.”

Report Recommendations
The report introduces a new role, that of a NHS Workforce Wellbeing Guardian for each NHS trust, and nine Workforce Wellbeing Guardian Principles.  The report's key aim is to ensure that strategies are developed and strengthened to lessen staff and student stress, to ensure that the NHS becomes a place where mental wellbeing is a priority.

Professor Wendy Reid, Director of Education and Quality, Executive Medical Director, Health Education England, said; “ELFT is an exemplar employer in the way staff are looked after and supported. But improvements can be made everywhere, and the NHS as a whole has to raise its game in delivering care to patients.”

ELFT’s Chair Marie Gabriel CBE said: “As a Trust, we have been working hard to address the wellbeing of staff through finance initiatives, health and wellbeing schemes, and having 'Joy at Work' as one of our QI projects looking at what makes for a good day, and makes people feel valued. So I very much welcome the findings of the Wellbeing Commission Report.” 

Mary Stackable, a Healthcare Assistant in Newham was one of the staff at the event.  She said, "It was good to hear that the emotional impact of our work is being talked about. Work can be such a busy time and we know from experience that many healthcare staff don't get a lunch break most of the time."

Her colleague, Kim Goldsmith, Telehealth Assistant Practitioner was also present agrees. She said, "It's important to be able talk and vent about work in a safe place but where can you go? The report and the speakers today seem to appreciate the importance of caring for staff and supporting them. If staff are happy, it makes for a happy work place and then you get happy patients/clients!"%