Talk Health and Care

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The part of my job I have enjoyed the most since becoming Health Minister in November has been visiting different parts of the NHS, and meeting the dedicated staff who care for us.

In Luton & Dunstable I was struck by how managers worked hard to ensure they were approachable, allowing staff to feel comfortable raising any problems or concerns they have.

And at Mersey Care NHS Foundation Trust I met two whistleblowers who spoke up against bullying and bad practice.

I have an enormous amount of respect and admiration for each and every person who makes up the NHS, all of whom told me how much they loved their jobs, despite sometimes challenging circumstances.

And I’m also well aware that there’s still a lot more we as government can do to make things easier for you.

Many of you may have seen the results of the NHS Staff Survey that were published on Tuesday, and I’d like to thank everyone who took the time to give your views. Your feedback is essential for us to make the NHS better, not only for patients, but for all staff too.

There’s plenty to be positive about. More of you would recommend your organisation as a place to work and for patients to be treated compared to last year, and more of you feel you are getting the recognition you deserve when you do a good job.

While any act of violence against a member of staff is unacceptable, it is promising to see improvements in this area with this figure at its lowest level for five years. With the Assault on Emergency Workers Bill now in law, I hope this statistic will continue to fall.

However, there are areas which are still a cause for concern and I am determined that we do everything we can to tackle these. More of you have reported experiencing bullying and harassment and feeling unwell as a result of work related stress, and less than a third of you feel that your organisations take positive action to improve your health and wellbeing.

This is unacceptable and I am committed to fixing it.

Our Long Term Plan for the NHS sets out our clear commitment to making the NHS a consistently great place to work. That means promoting flexibility, wellbeing and career development to build a more modern working culture where everyone feels supported and valued. And we are backing up this commitment with clear action.  

Just last week we set out plans to offer NHS staff dedicated mental health support whenever they need it. The proposals – which will be considered as part of the Workforce Implementation Plan – include a 24/7 confidential support service and fast-track mental health referrals if recommended by a GP, to provide day-to-day support with the pressures of a job on the frontline of the NHS and ensure everyone has somewhere to turn in the toughest times.

We will redouble our efforts to address bullying, violence, discrimination and harassment by investing up to £2 million per year in new initiatives to tackle it.

And this Talk Health and Care platform is a direct channel to myself, my Ministerial colleagues and the Health Secretary, where every comment is taken seriously and used to inform national policy making. So if you have an opinion or an idea, we want to hear it.

The NHS is nothing without its wonderful staff and we have a duty to care for you, so you can care for your patients.

I’ve only met a small number of you so far, but I very much look forward to meeting more of you in the coming weeks and months to discuss your experiences – to find out what more we can to do make sure you are supported and valued for the outstanding contribution you make to our health service.

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