The Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) has said the care providers have a ‘responsibility’ to support staff after a health watchdog found staff are experiencing significant distress in the workplace.
According to the Healthcare Safety Investigation Branch (HSIB), NHS staff ‘cried or displayed extreme emotion’ when talking about their work environment during interviews for its investigation into delays in transferring patients.
And a health psychologist who specialises in moral injury advised the HSIB that continued challenges in getting patients to the right place of care ‘will lead to further deteriorations in staff wellbeing’.
Anne Trotter, NMC assistant director of professional practice, said: ‘Together with the Chief Nursing Officers (CNOs) and the Care Quality Commission (CQC), we’ve been clear that all health and care providers have a responsibility to ensure staff are well supported, and that channels to raise concerns are always open and accessible.
‘We’re also clear that all those working in health and care, including managers and leaders, have a part to play in creating an environment where professionals support one another, recognising the impact of continuing to provide safe care for people and their families.’
The watchdog has now recommended that staff health and wellbeing form a ‘critical component of patient safety’ in the NHS Patient Safety Strategy.
In its interim report – published 27 February – the HSIB found that staff felt the wellbeing support offered by their employer was only prioritised ‘when there was time to do so’ and that it often came too late.
The current approach to staff wellbeing is too reactive and relies on staff coming forward, the watchdog said.
Neil Alexander, lead investigator, said: ‘The investigation was given many accounts, across the healthcare system, of wellbeing impacts on individuals and teams. The recommendation we made is aimed at ensuring the intrinsic link between patient safety and staff wellbeing is captured at a national level. We recognise that until there is a whole system response to the challenges in urgent care, staff will continue to face issues.
‘However, in the shorter-term, staff and a health psychologist have told us that in these difficult times, it is important that they are given the time and space to engage in reflective practice and get support from people with expertise in staff wellbeing’
A version of this article first appeared in our sister publication: Healthcare Leader