Nurses mental health and more under spotlight after COVID
Nurses health and that of other key healthcare staff has been in critical since the arrival of COVID 19. They are in the eye of the pandemic storm, which has brought nurses health and safety firmly into the spotlight. It matters to everyone involved: nurses, employers, and ultimately to patients who need healthy and motivated nursing staff in work to provide their care.
Our employee health director Dr Steve Boorman has been deeply involved in NHS efforts around staff health and wellbeing for more than a decade.
Nursing health in the spotlight
He recently joined senior NHS speakers in a powerful roundtable session organised by Nursing Times, timed to align with Self Care Week. Other speakers included Daniel Mortimer, chief executive at NHS Employers along with David Melia and Victoria Cooper, directors of nursing from Mid Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust and Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust, respectively. Also joining the panel was Karen Bonner, Chief Nurse at Buckinghamshire Healthcare NHS Trust. The session was chaired by Steve Ford, editor at Nursing Times.
Fact: There are 301,491 nurses working in the NHS in 2021
Daniel Mortimer set the scene, highlighting the extraordinary intensity of demand that nurses and other colleagues are seeing, and stressing how it is compounded by the gaps in the workforce, making recruitment and retention a critical issue.
Dr Boorman then provided a unique context for the ongoing discussion. He was instrumental in the first comprehensive review of staff health, the Boorman Review in 2009. However, he said “The review was not rocket science. You don’t have to be an occupational health physician to realise that staff health and wellbeing is an essential part of delivering effective patient care – but it took an outsider to make that connection.”
Despite the findings of the Review becoming a key component of NHS people strategy since that time, he reflected that “The years leading up to the pandemic were not kind to staff health in the NHS… It has taken a pandemic to move it front and centre.”
“The focus on prevention and protection is more important than staff breakdown” he stated – likening occupational health for staff to a backstreet garage, visited only after a car problem arises.
Positive change on NHS staff and nursing health
However, he also outlined the many positive aspects of change that are now happening. The appointment of more than 400 Board-level Wellbeing Guardians will promote momentum. A new initiative will help equip managers to have healthy conversations. The NHS Health and Wellbeing Framework has been published. Lastly, investment in the Growing OH programme is hugely significant alongside the 40 new Mental Health and Wellbeing Hubs that have opened across the NHS in the past 18 months.
He summed up: “Nurses deserve more than a doorstep clap. They deserve not to be ‘cobblers children’ when it comes to care and support. And they deserve the best possible teams behind them, to make sure they can deliver the best possible care.”
This was the contribution of just one panellist. The complete panel brought further insight and frontline perspectives to the topic, exploring how physical and mental wellbeing among nursing and other healthcare staff impacts staff motivation and retention.
Watch the video here
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