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Mental Health Support for NHS Staff

Volume 748: debated on Tuesday 23 April 2024

Every day, NHS staff do an extraordinary job for their patients, and it is vital that the NHS supports them in maintaining their mental health. The long-term workforce plan commits the NHS to supporting staff health and wellbeing and asks integrated care systems to develop plans to support them. I am pleased that NHS England is reviewing mental health services for all staff, to ensure that all staff in the NHS have the support that they need.

Fighting to save a dying child’s life, telling families that their loved one will not make it through the night, and working desperately in substandard conditions—it will come as little shock to hear that all that takes a toll. Last year, 6.4 million mental health sick days were taken across the NHS. Instead of receiving support, our NHS heroes have a Tory Government who treat them with disdain and kick them to the kerb. Will the Minister commit to funding the NHS practitioner health service beyond the next 12 months, or will the Government just try to shut it down again?

As an NHS community first responder who served on the frontline during the pandemic, who had to see people say goodbye to their loved ones for the last time before being admitted to hospital, and who has dealt with cardiac arrests, I know the mental toll that working for or volunteering with the NHS can take on our workforce, and therefore we do give a very high priority to the subject. The NHS people plan sets out a range of actions to build a more modern, compassionate and inclusive culture, and includes a much stronger focus on the availability of quality health and wellbeing support. It is right that we keep services under review, so I will not make a commitment today to continuing to fund something that we have agreed to fund for another year while those services are reviewed.