Motion as passed by conference
Mover: Munira Wilson MP (Spokesperson for Health, Wellbeing & Social Care).
Summation: Baroness Tyler.
Conference believes that:
- 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.
- 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.
- The UK's mental health response to COVID-19 should be world-class.
Conference notes that:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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:
- ‘A mental health support phone hotline to be made available 24/7 for health and care staff.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- The introduction of an 'occupational health passport' so workers do not have to relive mental health traumas when they change jobs.
- Every health and social care worker to have access to reflective practice groups with protected time to help prevent longer term mental ill health.
- Steps to encourage every setting to have a qualified mental health first aider.