The College of Paramedics is delighted to inform its members that it has received a grant from CHSA (Covid-19 Healthcare Support Appeal) to develop a service to provide specialist mental health interventions for its members, and paramedics with the most complex mental health needs. CHSA is a time-limited charity, making grants to organisations helping frontline healthcare workers affected by the Coronavirus pandemic. It is a subsidiary of the RCN Foundation and has been funded through an incredibly generous gift of £5 million from TikTok, the video-sharing social network service. The gift recognises that health and care staff are at the forefront of the fight against Covid-19 and may need financial or psychological support as a result.
This grant means that working with the NHS Practitioner Health service and The Ambulance Staff Charity, a service can now be developed to meet the needs of paramedics with the most serious and complex mental health problems, when other services and intervention cannot meet their needs. The long established NHS Practitioner Health service, originally setup as a confidential NHS service for doctors and dentists, has considerable experience of treating regulated healthcare professionals for their most complex mental health needs. What makes its service unique is that it does this, cognisant of professional ethics, conduct and responsibility requirements, and provides separation and confidentiality from the mainstream NHS services.
We are delighted therefore to now be developing a service, together with setting-up an evaluation to understand the benefits and impact, of providing specialist intervention services for our paramedic colleagues who are experiencing major difficulties with their mental health. This tripartite relationship includes The Ambulance Staff Charity (TASC) and will enable more paramedics to get the vital help that they need.
David Davis, College of Paramedics Joint Mental Health Lead and Chair of the Paramedic Mental Health and Wellbeing Steering Group said:
'This is a very exciting development for two reasons. Firstly, because it allows us to start answering unmet need amongst the profession and secondly, because it shows how our fellow professions recognise the immense psychological pressures facing paramedics throughout their careers. We know that rates of suicide and PTSD, alongside other mental ill health plagues our sector at levels much higher than in the general population and this is an important step in addressing these issues.'
Prof Jane Cummings CBE, former Chief Nursing Officer for England, who is Chair of the RCNF and trustee of CHSA said:
'We are very pleased indeed to have been able to fund the College of Paramedics and alongside it The Ambulance Staff Charity to provide mental health interventions to this important group of professionals. COVID-19 has placed immense pressure on all health and care professions and paramedics have been at the forefront of healthcare delivery in some of the most challenging conditions. We look forward to working with the College in providing care and developing knowledge in this important area.’
Clare Gerada MBE, Medical Director of NHS Practitioner Health said:
'I have been worried about paramedic mental health for some time and have real concerns about the day to day pressures that this special group of professionals face in their clinical practice. I look forward to working with David and the team at the College of Paramedics in delivering care for this wonderful profession.'
The funding will also pay for a new part time role within the College of Paramedics to maintain these vital relationships, collaborate with all stakeholders, including the Association of Ambulance Chief Executives and provide leadership for the development and implementation of the service, together with ensuring robust evaluation and appropriate triage and referral of potential paramedic patients.