Nottinghamshire ambulance service unveils mental health strategy as ‘priority’

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East Midlands Ambulance Service has unveiled a mental health and suicide prevention strategy as a “priority” as a response to pressures on staff during the pandemic and cost-of-living crisis.

The strategy seeks to reduce the rate of suicides within the service and reduce the number of mental health and musculoskeletal absences through early intervention.

A support network for staff who have retired or left the service will also be formed.

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Other work includes mental health first aid training and ensuring that the trust collects data on suicides.

At the latest EMAS board meeting, directors approved the health, wellbeing and suicide prevention strategy for the period 2023-26.

Papers stated the the Covid pandemic and the cost-of-living crisis have had an impact on staff wellbeing.

EMAS saw an increase in sickness levels during the pandemic, with the main reasons given by staff as anxiety, stress and depression, and musculoskeletal absences.

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EMAS already offers 24/7 counselling for staff, as well as musculoskeletal physiotherapy, but is now introducing a health ambassador role to start conversations with staff around general health and wellbeing.

Papers stated: “There is no doubt staff within our organisation and the ambulance sector in general operate in an extremely challenging environment which can impact on individual mental health and wellbeing.”

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Kerry Gulliver, EMAS director of human resources and organisational development, said: “This strategy was developed in recognition that health and wellbeing is a priority.

“We’ve taken account of corporate engagement and also staff surveys, workshops with operational staff and trade union colleagues.”