Mental wellbeing guardians should be introduced across the NHS, report says

As reported by the BMA, guardians of mental wellbeing should be implemented across the UK’s health service

Health Education England (HEE) has stated that mental wellbeing ‘guardians’ should be implemented across the NHS.

The organisation claims that every level of the health service should introduce staff to promote good mental health in staff.

The point of the guardians is to have them report concerns about overall staff health to trust boards, creating wellbeing expectations and monitoring performance.

The guardians themselves would operate under nine principles and be further supported by a workplace wellbeing leader.

The HEE’s report endorses and reiterates calls already set out by the BMA in its Supporting Health and Wellbeing at Work report, which includes proactive board-level engagement on workforce health and wellbeing, as well as support, debriefing and training.

Led by former HEE chair Sir Keith Pearson and Simon Gregory, the director and dean of education and quality, Midlands and East, the report was commissioned to feed into the NHS Long-Term Plan.

Responding to the report, BMA mental health policy lead, Andrew Molodynski, welcomed the commission’s findings as timely but warned that words must be met by action.

He said: “Staff are fundamental to the delivery of patient care in the NHS and without a healthy workforce our health service can barely function, let alone thrive.

“Given the current pressures that the NHS workforce is under, the secretary of state for health and social care’s commitment to improving mental health and wellbeing support for staff is timely and necessary.

“We know that doctors’ mental health and wellbeing has been adversely affected by the increasing demands of their work and this is true also for medical students who are dealing with stress, fatigue and exposure to traumatic clinical situations, very often without adequate support on hand.

“The BMA recently called for greater provision of mental health support for NHS staff as its report found that only about half of doctors were aware of any services that help them with physical and mental health problems at their workplace – while one-in-five respondents said that no support services are provided.

“While these measures will go a long way to provide much-needed support for NHS workers who are struggling with their mental health and overall wellbeing, more must be done to address the wider pressures on the system, such as underfunding, workforce shortages and rising patient demand, so we can reduce the number needing to seek help in the first place.”

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