RCoA responds to NHS Staff and Learners’ Mental Wellbeing Commission report

Responding to Health Education England’s publication of the report from the NHS Staff and Learners’ Mental Wellbeing Commission, Dr Janice Fazackerley, Vice-President of the Royal College of Anaesthetists, said:

“Staff wellbeing and patient safety are intertwined and it’s been clear for a long time that more needs to be done to care for NHS professionals who have chosen a career caring for others.

“The Commission’s report provides a fair and honest assessment of the shortfalls in staff support and rest facilities. As a College representing the single largest hospital specialty, we have worked with our 22,500 fellows and members to understand better the welfare challenges they face and have been successful in offering solutions to Government and NHS bodies. I am therefore pleased the Commission has recognised that NHS staff need to be better cared for, and has provided Government with a comprehensive plan to make the changes required to better support not only anaesthetists, but the entire NHS workforce.

“I am particularly pleased to see the Commission reference the College’s report on the welfare and morale of anaesthetists in training1. Our 2017 report captured the views of more than half of all anaesthetists in training and highlighted the importance of basic provisions such as the availability of proper rest facilities and access to a hot and healthy meal when working late and unsocial shift patterns.

“The College is also pleased that the Commission’s report recognises the need for capital funding to improve staff facilities in NHS workplaces. We hope that decisions at the upcoming government Spending Review acknowledge this recommendation and support the case for investing in those NHS staff who provide the care and treatment that keeps the country healthy and productive”.

The College has called for dedicated capital funding to be made available to hospitals to ensure that adequate facilities are provided to staff that safeguard their wellbeing and reflect the demands of their roles2.  We are therefore pleased to see that recommendation 12 of the Commission’s report calls for capital allocations to enhance staff facilities as part of NHS estate planning.

A recent survey of the College’s membership found that half of respondents (49%) do not have access to dedicated rest facilities and of those that did, one in ten (9%) were being charged to use them.

In partnership with the Association of Anaesthetists and the Faculty of Intensive Care Medicine, the College is running the #FightFatigue campaign to start a national conversation about the impact of fatigue and shift working on NHS staff. You can find out more about #FightFatigue here.

References:

  1. RCoA. A report on the welfare, morale and experiences of anaesthetists in training: the need to listen. December 2017. http://bit.ly/RCoAWelfare
  2. In our submission to NHS England to inform the development of the Long Term Plan we recommended, ‘Dedicated capital funding should be available for the provision of adequate facilities that enable NHS staff to work in a comfortable working environment’. Our full submission can be accessed at http://bit.ly/Longtermplan

20 February 2019