Increased mental health support welcome but workforce crisis must be addressed, warns RCN

23 Feb 2021

Nursing staff will benefit from the expansion of mental health support, but the government must urgently tackle nursing shortages to prevent burnout.

A female nurse wearing a face mask looks concerned

Mental health support for NHS staff in England is to be expanded it has been announced this week. The plans outlined by NHS England and NHS Improvement include 40 dedicated support hubs being set up across the country.

NHS staff will be able to access services over the phone with onward referral to online and one-to-one expert help from qualified mental health clinicians, therapists, recovery workers and psychologists. 

The announcement follows the publication of the RCN’s Principles for Return to Service, which outline eight key areas of support required for the return of “normal” service delivery in the NHS. 

The principles emphasise the importance of nursing staff having timely and ongoing access to mental health and wellbeing services, but they also stress the need to urgently tackle the fundamental issue of an under-resourced nursing workforce. 

RCN England Director Mike Adams said: “Over the last twelve months, nursing staff have been under incredible pressure and we have seen the pandemic take its toll on their mental health. This shows why we need more services like this welcome initiative. 
“Our members were reporting high levels of work-related stress and burnout before the pandemic began. We entered this crisis with nearly 40,000 nursing vacancies in the NHS in England alone and the last year has further highlighted the impact this has on our members’ ability to deliver safe and effective care, and their own wellbeing. The next Budget is an opportunity to invest in our workforce that cannot be wasted.
“Services need to be available to all nursing staff including health care workers in independent health and care services.”



Page last updated - 23/02/2021