The health care workforce in England

The health care workforce in England: make or break | The Health Foundation |  King’s Fund | Nuffield Trust 

This briefing highlights the scale of the NHS workforce challenges and the threat this poses to the delivery and quality of care. It sets out the reasons why the NHS long-term plan and a supporting workforce strategy must address the urgent and mounting challenges facing the health care workforce. 

The authors suggest that if the substantial staff shortages continue, they could lead to growing waiting lists, deteriorating care quality and the risk that some of the £20.5bn secured for NHS front-line services will go unspent: even if commissioners have the resources to commission additional activity, health care providers may not have the staff to deliver it.

The briefing will be followed in the coming weeks by a more in-depth report that explores five key levers available nationally and locally that could help ameliorate the workforce crisis affecting both health and social care.

Full briefing available at The King’s Fund

Related:  Staffing shortfall of almost 250,000 by 2030 is major risk to NHS long term plan | The Health Foundation

It’s okay to ask for help

NHS Employers | August 2018 | It’s okay to ask for HELP

NHS Employers have published  a case study from Brighton and Sussex University Hospitals NHS Trust, which  successfully embedded its health, employee, learning and psychotherapy services (HELP) into its staff wellbeing programme to ensure more members of staff were getting the help they need and to reduce sickness absence.


Since BSUH implemented HELP, the service supports around 500 members of staff
every year with individual psychotherapy and counselling.
• 18 workshops and 28 incident debriefs have taken place each year.
• 44 staff members have benefited from specialist EMDR trauma therapy.
• By offering the services internally the trust is reaching more people for the
same cost.
• 98 per cent of staff said the sessions helped them to stay in work, or return to work sooner from sick leave. HELP also runs a placement programme for honorary psychotherapists from Brighton, Sussex and London universities.

This new approach to counselling and psychotherapy services for staff included sessions on trauma as well as  stress management workshops. Since its implementation the service has supported 500 members of staff, with 98 per cent of those who attended saying the service has meant they did not need to take time off work.  (Source: NHS Employers).

Read the full case study at NHS Employers 

NHS Health and Wellbeing Framework

NHS Employers | May 2018 | NHS Health and Wellbeing Framework
NHS England has worked with twelve NHS organisations to create a new Health and Wellbeing Framework and accompanying diagnostic tool to help NHS organisations plan and implement their own approach for improving staff health and wellbeing. This framework has been developed by NHS Employers, NHS England and NHS Improvement with support from partners across the NHS, voluntary sector and government to bring best practice, research and insights together in one accessible place for the first time for NHS organisations.

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The Health and Wellbeing Framework in an interactive document that makes the case for staff health and wellbeing, sets out clear actionable steps for each of the 14 areas and includes guidance on how organisations can plan and deliver a staff health and wellbeing plan.

The framework and diagnostic tool have been designed to be used in a flexible way to meet the needs of your organisation. You can use these resources in total or in part to start, revise or re-launch a programme. The framework is divided into two sections, organisational enablers and health interventions.

(Source: NHS Employers)

Current approach to managing winter pressures has become unsustainable – NHS Providers

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.

More from NHS providers here

The effect of good people management

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.

Full report: Good work, wellbeing and changes in performance outcomes: Illustrating the effects of good people management practices with an analysis of the National Health Service.

Mental health and employment

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.

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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.

Full report: Thriving at Work: a review of mental health and employers



Mental health staff and services under pressure

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.

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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.

Full report: Struggling to Cope: Mental health staff and services under pressure