Health secretary pledges to overhaul mental health support for NHS staff

Health secretary and West Suffolk MP Matt Hancock has pledged more support for NHS workers' mental h

Health secretary and West Suffolk MP Matt Hancock has pledged more support for NHS workers' mental health and wellbeing Picture: PA / Stefan Rousseau - Credit: PA Archive/PA Images

West Suffolk MP and health secretary Matt Hancock is unveiling new plans to support the mental health and wellbeing of NHS staff.

Healthcare workers should be given immediate access to dedicated mental health support when they need it, the secretary of state said in a speech.

His remarks come after the latest NHS staff survey revealed less than a third of workers felt their organisation took positive action towards improving their health and wellbeing.

Mr Hancock outlined proposals for post-incident support for frontline staff – which could include peer group support or a psychological assessment following distressing situations.

In addition, he said an NHS ‘workforce wellbeing guardian’ responsible for championing mental health and wellbeing support may soon be available in every NHS organisation.

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Improved rest spaces are to be created for staff to use during and after their shifts – and further support will be available to all staff 24 hours a day.

“I love the NHS and have enormous respect and admiration for the dedicated staff who make our health service what it is today,” said Mr Hancock.

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“Working under pressure, NHS staff put themselves in some of the most challenging situations imaginable as part of their unwavering commitment to caring for us all. So they deserve unwavering support from us all.

“I’m so proud of the service NHS staff give, so the mental and physical wellbeing of the people who work in our health service must be our utmost priority. Today’s important report helps guide how we can do that, from creating the right culture of support to giving everyone somewhere to turn in the toughest times.

“NHS staff have been there for me, and they have been there for my family – so I’m determined to make sure we are there for them too.”

Mr Hancock’s vision for improved mental health support follows recommendations made by Health Education England in a report commissioned by the Department for Health and Social Care last year.

It is hoped the moves, part of the NHS Long Term Plan, will cut sickness absence rates and prevent healthcare workers from leaving due to stress – and in turn, boost staff performance.

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