First and foremost, please be assured that I have the highest admiration for the NHS as it saved my life in an emergency operation in the middle of the night when I was 24. In addition, two of my children currently work for the NHS. Therefore, as a family, we are deeply committed to it. I am also incredibly proud of all NHS staff, who do a fantastic job providing world-class care. In the face of the enormous pressures of Covid-19, they displayed extraordinary dedication, resourcefulness and compassion, caring for patients in the most challenging of circumstances.
The NHS workforce’s mental health and well-being is vitally important, and I appreciate the concerns raised about this matter. The NHS People Plan has been developed to improve staff retention by prioritising health and well-being. The plan includes the introduction of a well-being guardian role, a focus on healthy working environments, empowering line managers to hold meaningful conversations with staff to discuss their welfare, and a comprehensive emotional and psychological support package. The NHS People Plan is also focused on improving flexible working conditions for staff, and supporting an inclusive and compassionate workplace culture: www.england.nhs.uk/ournhspeople.
NHS England continues to support integrated care systems (ICSs) to develop tailored health and well-being offers that meet the needs of their local workforce. This includes occupational health services, which are being supported through the national Growing Occupational Health and Wellbeing Together Strategy, which can be found at www.england.nhs.uk/publication/growing-occupational-health-and-wellbeing-together-strategy. Staff can also access NHS Practitioner Health, a national in-house support service with more complex mental health problems as a result of serious issues, such as trauma or addiction.
More broadly, as part of the five-year funding offer agreed in 2019, mental health services are receiving an additional £2.3 billion in real terms in 2023-24 enabling further service expansion and faster access to community and crisis mental health services for adults and particularly children and young people. The Government has committed to increase mental health spending to 8.9 per cent of all NHS funding.