Helping the NHS workforce recover from the pandemic – NHS Workforce Alliance in Health Business magazine

As published in the latest issue of Health Business magazine:

Helping the NHS workforce recover from the pandemic

Coronavirus has shown that our physical and mental health and wellbeing is more important than ever – and nowhere more so than in the NHS.

Without a healthy workforce the NHS cannot provide the high quality and effective service that is so essential to helping tackle the backlog of patient care that has built up during the pandemic. According to a report by the British Medical Journal, 4.7 million people were waiting to begin treatment at the end of February 2021. This is the highest number since records began in 2007.

Impact of COVID on health and wellbeing

Yet it is expected that many NHS workers will need vital support to deal with the toll the pandemic has had on their health – especially frontline staff who have been faced with traumatic situations on a regular basis for many months now.

Supporting all NHS staff to ensure they are physically and mentally well is vital to bringing down these waiting lists and ensuring the highest standards of care.

As Hilary Winch, Chair of the NHS Health at Work Network, commented:

There is increasing demand for occupational health services within the NHS and trusts should be thinking about ensuring they have sufficient proactive occupational health support. Now more than ever making sure our workforce is healthy and supported post COVID is key to our recovery and building and retaining a resilient workforce.”

NHS Staff Survey

The annual NHS Staff Survey results, which were published in March this year, highlight concerns over the well-being of the NHS workforce and the impact the pandemic has had on staff.

The survey found that:

  • 44% of staff had reported feeling unwell due to work-related stress in the last 12 months – a 3.7% increase from last year
  • 6% of frontline staff reported stress compared to 41.7% in 2019 – an increase of 4.9%

However, as NHS Employers say on their website:

“There is no quick fix for a successful health and well-being programme, it requires engagement, time and commitment.”

Occupational health

This is where the new Occupational Health, Employee Assistance Programme and Eye Care framework from the NHS Workforce Alliance could be a crucial support tool for NHS trusts.

The framework gives you access to a wide range of proactive and preventative services, as well as treatments, designed to help you support your employee’s health and well-being. This includes dealing with issues such as stress, burnout, anxiety, domestic abuse and bereavement. Enhanced psychological support services, mental health screening and psychological surveillance are all new features of the framework, and these are services that may be particularly helpful for supporting staff who have been subject to traumatic events in their roles. You can also access new services such as return to work assessments and management of COVID-19 in the workplace, including how to deal with long COVID.

Overstretched resources

Crucially the framework enables you to select just the services you need, providing the ideal solution to complement any existing in-house provision you may have – particularly if it is overstretched right now.

Bethan Flynn, Commercial Agreement Manager at Crown Commercial Service, led the procurement of the new framework on behalf of the NHS Workforce Alliance. She has said:

“The impact the pandemic has had on all of our lives is immeasurable, and NHS frontline colleagues have worked tirelessly to save lives. Now more than ever we need to acknowledge that additional support is needed for those who have spent the last 12 months caring for patients under the most difficult circumstances.

“This framework will help trusts to source additional capacity and make sure their staff can access the services they need quickly.”

It is also worth noting that all the suppliers available through the framework are flexible in their delivery methods, and offer remote options wherever possible – and where clinical governance allows.

Suppliers must also ensure their services meet accessibility requirements, giving you peace of mind that your inclusion and diversity needs will be met. For example, any websites, portals or apps used must be equally accessible for all.

The NHS Workforce Alliance

The NHS Workforce Alliance is a team of experts from the NHS Procurement in Partnership and Crown Commercial Service. We are motivated by a genuine desire to make the NHS better. You can trust us to act in the best interests of the NHS – always putting patient care first.

If you would like to discuss how the alliance can help you support your staff at this crucial time please get in touch:

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