Why the wellbeing of NHS staff is so important
Posted Thursday 17 September 2009
So, NHS staff take the more sick days than anywhere else in the public sector? Anyone who has had any experience with the day to day running of NHS services can't be that shocked by this.
Growing up in a household of medic parents, I know the stress that these professions can entail. I imagine that if I told my mum that a quarter of NHS staff go off sick due to stress, depression and anxiety, she would simply look a bit baffled and reply "Surely stress, depression and anxiety are part of the job?!"
Speaking with people who use NHS mental health services over the last few months, as we consult on the Department of Health's plans for New Horizons, the next 10 year strategy for mental health, the issue of NHS staff wellbeing keeps cropping up.
The general opinion is that there are some great people working in mental health services but too many of them just aren't treated properly. Instead, they can be overworked and left with little support of their own. The resulting absenteeism then goes on to have a very negative effect on clients who, even in a crisis, are told that their psychiatrist isn't available or that their community psychiatric nurse will be changing for the umpteenth time. In fact, more than 80 per cent of NHS staff questioned admitted that their health affected the quality of care they gave to patients.
Users of NHS services deserve better continuity with mental health professionals who are well enough to provide the right care, and mental health professionals deserve a better working environment that practices what it preaches.
As the Department of Health begins to draw up plans to improve wellbeing across the whole population, let's hope they remember the needs of their own. You can have your say on the Department of Health's plans for New Horizons.
Mariam Kemple, Policy and Campaigns Officer
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