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The NHS staff including pharmacists will get rapid access to expanded mental health services that are being rolled out across the country as part of efforts to deal with the second wave of Covid-19.

NHS England and NHS Improvement will invest an extra £15 million to strengthen mental health support for pharmacists, nurses, paramedics, therapists, and support staff.

Staff referred by themselves or colleagues will be rapidly assessed and treated by local expert mental health specialists. Those with the most severe needs will be referred to a specialist centre of excellence.

The investment will fund outreach work among those deemed most as risk such as critical care staff.

The £15 million investment builds on the commitments set out in the People Plan published in July. Pledges included the piloting of a series of mental health hubs around the country, offering immediate support as well as rapid access to more specialist treatment where needed.

“It is crucial that the NHS staff working tirelessly to protect the health of the nation throughout this pandemic are given the support they deserve, which is why we are announcing this expansion of services,” said Claire Murdoch, NHS National Mental Health Director.

The NHS already funds NHS Practitioner Health for doctors and dentists, which provides confidential mental health and addiction services and supports over 2,500 new patients each year.

Existing mental health support for staff will also be expanded as the country moves into winter and faces a potential second wave of Covid-19. Current support services available to NHS workers include:

  • a dedicated health and care staff support service including confidential support via phone and text message.
  • a specialist bereavement support helpline for those who have lost friends and family – whether from Covid-19 or otherwise.
  • a specialist app for black, Asian and minority ethnic colleagues, Liberate, to manage anxiety and stress levels.
  • online resources, guidance and webinars.

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