A dedicated Psychological Medicine Staff Support Service has been created to support staff working at Oxford University Hospitals, providing extra help when they need it most. 

Oxford Hospitals Charity was successful in bidding for £150,000 from NHS Charities Together to fund two clinical psychologist roles and one part time clinical psychiatrist who will proactively address the psychological needs of staff coming out of the COVID-19 pandemic.

This will build on the outstanding work done to support staff since the start of the pandemic, by the hospitals' Psychological Medicine and Occupational Health teams and also the Wellbeing Leads based in teams throughout the Trust – more than 250 staff are currently in these roles on wards and in departments.

A doctor who has already benefited from the expertise of the Trust’s Psychological Medicine team, said: “I would like to express my most sincere thanks to your department for the truly incredible support we have received over the past year.

“I feel so fortunate to have benefited from your collective initiative, wisdom and generosity. I am consistently blown away by your team’s warmth, compassion and wonderful ability to say exactly what you need to hear in any particular moment.”

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Dr Simon Prangnell, Consultant Clinical Neuropsychologist and Clinical Director for Psychological Medicine, said: “We are incredibly grateful to Oxford Hospitals Charity and NHS Charities Together for supporting this new initiative. This has allowed us to provide rapid and easy access to specialist assessment and treatment for staff who have been affected by the pandemic and the challenges associated with working in an acute hospital.”

Dr May Quarmby, Consultant Clinical Psychologist and Strategic Lead for the Psychological Medicine Staff Support Service, added: “Throughout the past year the Psychological Medicine team have worked hard to use their skills and training to support not only their patients but also their staff colleagues.

“This has included working closely with Wellbeing Leads across the Trust who are passionate about the welfare of their team and have taken on this role in addition to the many demands of working through a pandemic.

“It is wonderful to be able to build on this work with the appointment of staff support psychologists. This allows us to increase our offer of support for teams, alongside providing evidence-based 1:1 psychological therapy, via Occupational Health.”

Research published by NHS Charities Together in April revealed that the COVID-19 pandemic has had a significant impact on the mental health of NHS staff. Just over half the NHS staff who they surveyed reported that their mental health had declined since the start of the pandemic, with 67% reporting anxiety and 35% reporting depression.

Ellie Orton, CEO of NHS Charities Together, said: “The NHS is doing a magnificent job combatting the pandemic and supporting the patients and families affected but some of the burden is falling on NHS staff and it is taking its toll. We need to continue to be there for them, now and in the longer term as the NHS recovers from the most challenging time in its history.” 

Douglas Graham, Chief Executive Officer of Oxford Hospitals Charity, added: “Our charity has seen at first hand the lengths which staff across our hospitals have gone to in looking after the Oxfordshire public over the past challenging year – and the toll that has taken for some.

“So we are really passionate about this programme of work and are delighted that Oxford Hospitals Charity has been successful in applying for £150,000 of funding from NHS Charities Together to help this important initiative.

“I would like to extend my thanks to NHS Charities Together for this generous support and also to the Trust’s Psychological Support team who are working with such dedication and care.”