Pressures being experienced by front-line health and care services this winter “are a watershed moment for the NHS” | NHS Providers
In a letter to Jeremy Hunt, NHS Providers has outlined concerns over the pressures being experienced by frontline health and care services this winter. The letter warns that the government must accept that the service can no longer deliver what is required of it within current funding, and calls for urgent decisions on long-term funding for health and social care to be taken.
NHS Providers is also calling for a full review of how well the NHS handled this winter, looking at: adequacy of bed numbers and staffing levels; efficacy of the new national planning approach; adequacy, timing and allocation of extra winter funding; system resilience; process and impact of cancelled elective operations; and the role and availability of primary care and social care, and their involvement in winter planning.
NHS Providers said that despite the NHS planning for winter more thoroughly and extensively than before, this still hasn’t been sufficient as rising numbers of flu cases and more respiratory illness have placed ‘intolerable pressures’ on staff.
Read the full letter to health and social care secretary Jeremy Hunt.
This report illustrates the effect of good people management with an analysis of the NHS | What Works Centre for Wellbeing
This report found Trusts that made the most extensive use of good people management practices were over three times more likely to have the lowest levels of staff sickness absence and at least four times more likely to have the most satisfied patients.
They were also more than twice as likely to have staff with the highest levels of job satisfaction compared to NHS Trusts that made least use of these practices, and over three times more likely to have staff with the highest levels of engagement.
Thriving at Work: a review of mental health and employers | Lord Dennis Stevenson and Paul Farmer | Department for Work and Pensions and Department of Health
Thriving at Work sets out what employers can do to better support all employees, including those with mental health problems to remain in and thrive through work.
The report includes a detailed analysis that explores the significant cost of poor mental health to UK businesses and the economy as a whole. It puts the annual cost to the UK economy of poor mental health at up to £99bn, of which £33bn – £42bn is borne by employers.
The review quantifies how investing in supporting mental health at work is good for business and productivity. The most important recommendation is that all employers, regardless of size or industry, should adopt 6 ‘mental health core standards’ that lay basic foundations for an approach to workplace mental health:
Produce, implement and communicate a mental health at work plan
Develop mental health awareness among employees
Encourage open conversations about mental health and the support available
when employees are struggling
Provide employees with good working conditions and ensure they have a healthy
work life balance and opportunities for development
Promote effective people management through line managers and supervisors
Routinely monitor employee mental health and wellbeing
The report also highlights examples of good practice such as the mental health first aid courses at Thames Water and, at Aviva, the promotion of e-learning modules to help identify and self-identify when people need support.
Cuts to mental health leave staff facing violence and aggression, says UNISON
A recent UNISON survey of staff working in mental health service has revealed that
mental health services have been hit hard by cuts to NHS funding, which has a damaging effect on service users and staff. The new publication reports that Service users have been struggling to access the help they need, while mental health staff working in under-resourced areas are left vulnerable to violence and aggression, and unable to provide the level of care needed.
The report, Struggling to Cope, is based on a survey of over 1,000 mental health employees across the UK, who work in a range of roles – with children and adults in hospitals, in secure units and out in the community.
More than two in five (42%) said they had been on the receiving end of violent attacks in the last year. Over a third (36%) said they had witnessed violent incidents involving patients attacking their colleagues.
While the majority (86%) felt they had the knowledge and training to carry out their work safely, more than a third (36%) said they had seen an increase in violent incidents in the past year.
Mental health workers blamed staff shortages (87%) and the overuse of agency staff (49%) as the main reasons behind the rise in violent attacks.
The future of the mental health workforce | Centre for Mental Health
This report is based on insights from service users, carers and professionals and outlines a list of recommendations for a sustainable mental health workforce.
It emphasises the importance of prevention, including the role of GPs in supporting people before they reach crisis point. It describes commissioning of mental health services as in “crisis” with a “shrinking workforce, growing expectations and exhausting demands” putting pressure on staff across the country.
The report makes 22 recommendations for policy, practice, education and training, highlighting 4 key calls to action:
For mental health careers to be promoted in schools and colleges: to build on growing awareness and understanding about mental health to encourage young people to aspire to work in the sector when they’re considering their career choices
For all mental health service providers to support the mental health and wellbeing of their staff: to become ‘compassionate organisations’ that care for the people who work in them
For mental health workers to get training in the skills they will need in the future, including in coproduction, community engagement and psychological interventions
For people to be able to build their careers more flexibly, working in a range of different settings and sectors, and taking on new roles as they get older
New initiative launched to support small businesses in improving work health
Illness among working age people costs the UK economy £100 billion a year. About 330,000 every year become unemployed because of health-related issues.
However, workplace health and wellbeing programmes such as exercise, healthy eating and stop smoking support have been shown to make a real difference. Successful programmes such as these have been found to return £2 to £10 for every £1 spent, benefiting staff wellbeing and economic productivity.
Most big employers already have some plans in place that help to improve and protect their staff’s health but many small and medium enterprises (SMEs) do not currently benefit from such programmes.
PHE and Healthy Working Futures, a workplace health provider, has set out advice for SMEs, which account for 60% of private sector employment.
PHE has also created a series of guidance for employers on important issues, such as musculoskeletal (MSK) and mental health, impacting on employees with Business in the Community. Further advice is being developed covering issues including:
This report finds that mental health problems in the UK workforce cost employers almost £35 billion last year. The largest part of this business cost is in the form of reduced productivity among people who are at work but unwell: or ‘presenteeism’.
This costs businesses twice as much as sickness absence relating to poor mental health.
The updated figures highlight that the overall costs are broken down into:
£10.6 billion in sickness absence;
£21.2 billion in reduced productivity at work, or ‘presenteeism’
£3.1 billion in replacing staff who leave their jobs because of their mental health.