Liberal Democrats

F5: Improve Mental Health Support for Health and Care Staff

Motion as passed by conference

10 members

Mover: Munira Wilson MP (Spokesperson for Health, Wellbeing & Social Care).

Summation: Baroness Tyler.

Conference believes that:

  1. Our health and care workforce have gone above and beyond to tackle coronavirus with thousands having lost colleagues, endured serious illness, or faced significant trauma.
  2. The mental health impacts will last a lifetime and we must ensure that health and care workers are supported right through this crisis and beyond.
  3. The UK's mental health response to COVID-19 should be world-class.

Conference notes that:

  1. Before the coronavirus crisis, sickness absence rates in the NHS were higher than in the rest of the economy, with anxiety, stress, depression and other psychiatric illnesses accounting for nearly a quarter of NHS absences, exceeding other reasons for sickness absence.
  2. The health and care workforce were already under pressure and overstretched with a high number of vacant posts in the NHS and in the care sector, and an ever-increasing rise in demand for care.
  3. Experts are warning of high rates of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) to health and care workers as a result of the coronavirus crisis; studies following the SARS outbreak found approximately 10% of health staff had PTSD, and many more had other signs of psychological distress.
  4. While the NHS provides care 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, the COVID-19 support hotline for staff set up by the Government is only available between 7am and 11pm.
  5. Health and care workers include not only nurses and doctors, but ancillary staff such as cleaners and porters who may have also had their mental health impacted by the crisis.
  6. Following the launch of the Liberal Democrat campaign to improve mental health support for health and care staff, the Labour Party reiterated Liberal Democrat calls by launching a similar campaign.

Conference reaffirms the Liberal Democrat commitment to ensure that all frontline public service professionals receive better training in mental health, and add a requirement for mental health first aiders in the Health and Safety First Aid Regulations.

Conference calls for:

  1. ‘A mental health support phone hotline to be made available 24/7 for health and care staff.
  2. A signposting service to be created so all health and social care workers know the support resources available to them, along with a promotional programme to encourage them to use it.
  3. The guarantee of a high universal mental health support service that can be accessed by all health and social care workers, replicating models such as the Medical Assessment Programme.
  4. The removal of the use of the Bradford Factor - a formula used to discourage short, frequent, unplanned absences - and other HR practices that reinforce a culture of presenteeism.
  5. The introduction of an 'occupational health passport' so workers do not have to relive mental health traumas when they change jobs.
  6. Every health and social care worker to have access to reflective practice groups with protected time to help prevent longer term mental ill health.
  7. Steps to encourage every setting to have a qualified mental health first aider.

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