Lib Dems back proposals for “world class” mental health support for health and care staff

The Liberal Democrat Autumn Conference has backed new plans to provide “world class” mental support for health and care staff, including calls for a 24/7 mental health support hotline for staff.

The motion was agreed as the latest figures from the NHS show that anxiety, stress, depression and other psychiatric illnesses accounted for over half a million days’ absence in May 2020. This is an increase of 37% on the same month last year, according to analysis by the Liberal Democrats. 

The Party has now adopted policies that would see mental health support services strengthened for “under pressure and overstretched” health and care staff, including ancillary workers like porters and cleaners. 

Specific measures include:  

  • That a mental health support phone hotline is made available 24/7 for health and care staff.  
  • Scrapping HR practices that encourage presenteeism and can deter staff from seeking support.
  • The introduction of an ‘occupational health passport’ so workers do not have to relive mental health traumas when they change jobs.

Munira Wilson, Liberal Democrat Health, Wellbeing and Social Care spokesperson, who moved the motion, said: “The wellbeing of our health and care workers – who look after us all, day in day out – matters. Too many of them have endured life-altering trauma and unbearable additional stress as a direct result of Covid-19. Supporting them must be an absolute priority.

Munira Wilson

“But even before COVID-19, there was a mental health crisis in health and care, with hundreds of thousands of days’ absence each month due to mental ill health among staff. The Conservatives have simply not done enough to ensure the right support is in place. 

“We rely on dedicated staff to keep our healthcare system running 24/7, and we need to make sure they have 24/7 support too. That is why the Liberal Democrats are calling for the hotline for all staff to operate all day, every day, as well as clearer signposting to mental health support. This must go hand-in-hand with an end to HR practices that penalise health and care workers who are seeking necessary treatment for mental ill health.” 

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