A safe, secure working environment

Health and wellbeing

The reported levels of sickness absence across the clinical support workforce in hospital and community services are high (8% in April 2020) compared with other staff groups such as scientific, therapeutic and technical workers (4%). (Nuffield Trust, 2021, pg. 37-38)

The NHS achieves extraordinary things for patients, but safety and health and wellbeing matter just as much for our people. If we don’t look after ourselves, and each other, we cannot deliver safe, high-quality care. COVID-19 has spurred the NHS on to put much greater focus on this, which we must continue and build on.

- NHS England and Improvement

smart_display Why wellbeing conversations are important.

This video, from NHS England and NHS Improvement, shares personal experiences from across the NHS of staff who have benefited from wellbeing conversations with their line managers.

Supporting health and wellbeing in the workplace

The following resources provide guidance on how to support health and wellbeing in the workplace.

Feeling valued

A significant majority of respondents (42%) to a survey by King's College London felt that their efforts were not fully recognised and a third did not feel valued members of their team. Only 15% of respondents thought the NHS as a whole gave support workers the recognition they deserved (King's College London, 2021, pg 22).

Health Education England’s Voice Network (a national support worker group; first meeting June 2021) identified perceptions of not being valued as a key issue.

Support Worker Voice

The Support Worker Voice is a free virtual network facilitated by Health Education England, set up specifically for the Support Worker workforce. It consists of regular meetings with an agenda driven by Support Workers.

The network gives Support Workers the chance to meet their counterparts from across the country so they may feel connected, share values and opinions and most importantly have their voices heard.

To register your interest and receive your invitation please email: supportworkervoice@hee.nhs.uk

Protecting staff from violence

The mental health support workforce experiences a disproportionate level of physical violence and bullying when compared to other mental health staff and other Trusts (Nuffield Trust 2021 pg. 47). The mental health support workforce is likely to spend the most amount of time out of all mental health roles providing direct care. This would increase their chances of experiencing patient violence.

On 2 January 2021 NHS England and NHS Improvement published the first national Violence Prevention and Reduction Standard for NHS organisations. The new standard complements existing health and safety legislation, employers (including NHS employers) have a general duty of care to protect staff from threats and violence at work. The standard delivers a risk-based framework that supports a safe and secure working environment for NHS staff, safeguarding them against abuse, aggression and violence.

These guidelines from NICE cover the short-term management of violence and aggression in adults (aged 18 and over), young people (aged 13 to 17) and children (aged 12 and under). It is relevant for mental health, health and community settings. The guideline aims to safeguard both staff and people who use services by helping to prevent violent situations and providing guidance to manage them safely when they occur.

Best practice case studies

  • Birmingham and Solihull Mental Health NHS Trust successfully reduced violence against community mental health staff. Find out more on the Health and Safety Executive website.

Managing concerns raised effectively