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Nearly two-thirds of mental health staff considering leaving due to cuts to services, survey finds


By Valeria Fiore
Reporter
10 April 2019

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Cuts to services is pushing mental health staff to leave their jobs, a survey by trade union Unison has revealed.

Almost half, 45%, of the 643 mental health employees who responded to the survey said they are thinking about leaving.

Nearly two-thirds, 63% of those who are considering quitting, said this is because cuts to services makes it harder for them to do their jobs.

Unison said ‘proper investment’ is needed to help the NHS retain this staff.

Challenges delivering quality care

The survey also showed that 61% of staff are thinking of leaving because they find it difficult to deliver high quality care.

Meanwhile two in five, 60%, cited work impacting on their mental health as a reason for wanting to quit and 53% said a lack of support from management was a cause.

Other concerns that emerged were ‘dwindling staff numbers’, which 88% of respondents felt affects mental health provision, while 67% were concerned about a lack of local services.

Almost two-thirds, 64%, said the ability to offer services was also negatively impacted by an insufficient number of mental health beds available for adults, while more than half, 58%, said long waiting lists were an issue.

 ‘What’s needed is proper investment’

Last year, a King’s Fund survey found that one quarter of CCGs said funding pressures have led to longer waiting times for patients with a mental health issue in need of treatment.

However, as part of the 2018 budget announcement, the Government said mental health spending will increase by over £2bn a year by 2023/24.

A Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) spokesperson said that last year the Government spent ‘a record £11.96bn on improving the nation’s mental health’.

Commenting on the survey’s findings, Unison head of health Sara Gorton said: ‘Staff in mental health services are facing burnout as a result of years of underfunding.

‘If this situation continues, the NHS risks losing staff who are passionate about making a difference. What’s needed is proper investment so staff can deliver the quality of care to those in need.’

Between June 2017 and May 2018 almost 25,000 mental health staff left the NHS, according to figures released by mental health minister Jackie Doyle-Price last year.

Speaking in Parliament in September, Mr Doyle-Price said NHS Improvement and NHS England had introduced ‘a special retention programme supporting those trusts with high levels of staff attrition’.

In July 2017, Health Education England set the ambition to create an additional 21,000 mental health posts and employ an extra 19,000 mental health staff in the NHS by 2020.

Speaking to Healthcare Leader today, a DHSC spokesperson said: ‘The mental health workforce is a key priority for this Government and NHS Improvement and NHS Employers are working to ensure all mental health trusts have the tools to improve retention.

‘Alongside this we aim to deliver 21,000 new posts as well as creating new roles to meet current and future workforce demands. Later this year, we will also publish a workforce implementation plan to grow the workforce rapidly.’

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