Chris Richmond MCPara, NHS England reflects on the inter-professional Symposium on Workplace Mental Well-being he attended on Monday 10th October 2016 as part of World Health Day.
I was fortunate enough to be selected to represent the College of Paramedics at this symposium, and was quite excited as I have been an advocate for improving the mental well-being of all NHS staff, not just paramedics for a number of years. The purpose of the inter-professional symposium was not just to meet and talk about how poor services are at managing the mental well-being of staff, but an opportunity to share key issues affecting the health and care workforce and identify potential solutions. The speakers came from across a number of professional boundaries and included: Professor Clare Gerada, Dr Geraldine Strathdee, Ruth Allen, Dr Rao, Annette Duff and David Davis from the College of Paramedics with David inviting guest appearances from the floor.
What struck me about the event was the seniority of some of the people there, but also the mix of operational people too, this led to some really good cross-disciplinary comment. There was a common theme across all the speakers, there is lots going on in pockets but nothing joined up. It was noted that the NHS England Five Year Forward View1 has mention of employee well-being but even this missed groups such as social workers and other care staff that it impacts on, but they will not be measured in the same way. Probably the most consistent point raised was the inability for people to feel they could support colleagues, as the organisation’s they work in, do not, or cannot, presently support them. This was bought into sharp focus when Professor Gerada spoke about the service they provide to the GP population. There are some real issues in the medical workforce, not dissimilar to roles in the non-medical, allied health and social care professions. What was interesting is that they can access a high quality evidence led support service, which sadly is missing from other professions. Imagine if it was possible to look at similarities and look at data to see how we could affect change rather than having individual pockets of good data?
This meeting was not intended as a standalone single event and there was a consensus that an output (in true NHS style) should be a statement of intent across all the disciplines, and a commitment to share. I cannot support this cause strongly enough, and hope that fellow paramedics feel able to support this too through the College of Paramedics going forward, and continuing to work with other organisations and agencies in developing solutions that support the Mental Health and Wellbeing of all NHS staff, including paramedics.
1 NHS England (2014) Five Year Forward View. Available at: https://www.england.nhs.uk/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/5yfv-web.pdf Accessed. 11.10.16.