A leading executive within healthcare recruitment has spoken out against Health Secretary Matt Hancock’s pledge to overhaul mental health support for NHS staff, warning that that ignoring fundamental issues would be like “sticking a plaster on a wound.”
Michael Johnson -Ellis, managing director, Healthier Recruitment, praised the move which would include post-incident support for NHS frontline staff, a dedicated 24-hour mental health support service, fast-tracked mental health referrals fro NHS employees, improved rest spaces for on-call staff and an ‘NHS workforce wellbeing guardian’ in every NHS organisation.
However, Johnson-Ellis thinks more could be done to address the wider staffing crisis that the NHS faces, with research revealing that unfilled vacancies across the service look set to rise to 350,000 by 2030.
Commenting on the developments, Michael Johnson-Ellis, who has over 15 years’ experience in NHS recruitment, said: “We applaud the Health Secretary’s plans to help tackle the mental health problems faced by nurses and others working in the NHS, and it’s truly encouraging to see this on the agenda. However, throwing money at new initiatives will not be a magic solution to the NHS’s problems. Our work with Trusts has shown us that, from a staffing perspective, many wards have far more deeply ingrained problems which contribute to the ongoing staffing crisis.
‘‘The mismanagement of workforces and high turnover of staff, which leads to an over-reliance on agency workers, has a huge impact on overall staff wellbeing. This impacts both continuity of care and staffing spend, making the workplace less attractive for substantive staff, and further exacerbating the strain on their mental health. Therefore, along with extra funding for new initiatives, workforce management programmes need to be introduced to address the core issues. Failure to do so is ignoring the true scope of the problem – it’s like sticking a plaster on a wound.
‘’Ultimately, a few small yet effective modifications could significantly improve the way that workforces are recruited and managed. This would have a huge impact on staff engagement and wellbeing long term.’’