The pandemic has highlighted that health and care staff wellbeing ‘must be of equal priority’ to that of patients’, the National Association of Primary Care (NAPC) has said.
In a statement today (9 June), it said this has ‘not always been the case’, due to a narrow focus on performance and staff putting patients’ needs ahead of their own.
The NAPC has been working with NHS England as part of the Professional Bodies Echo Group to ensure staff wellbeing is supported as part of the Covid-19 response.
‘Staff who are psychosocially healthy are better able to meet the needs and preferences of patients,’ the statement said, adding that it is essential to meet the needs of clinical and non-clinical staff as the NHS emerges from the pandemic.
It added that despite being one of the world’s largest direct or indirect employers, the NHS ‘lags behind’ other organisations in terms of care for staff and staff must instead feel their wellbeing is valued every day – not just during the pandemic.
The NAPC recommended that employers take a preventative approach to supporting staff wellbeing, rather than simply focusing on treating symptoms.
It said that organisations should also actively identify and address the wider causes of poor psychosocial wellbeing.
This requires a focus on emotional labour, absence of harassment, and on the impact of workloads and team-working at an organisational level, it said.
It added that ‘these considerations apply in caring for patients but also in recognising the importance of non-clinical staff to achieving safe and superb care’.
Leadership and team cohesion are also important to creating a ‘culture at work in which staff feel safe and encouraged to speak about their experiences’, it said.
The call to action – which was also signed by the BMA and RCGP – comes as a Government inquiry into burnout in the sector recommended mental health support for staff be maintained even as the sector returns to ‘business as usual’ after the pandemic.
The Health and Social Care Committee’s report added that the workforce burnout emergency will not be solved without a ‘total overhaul of the way the NHS does workforce planning’.