Suicidal NHS staff lose mental health support in ‘irresponsible’ cuts

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Suicidal NHS staff will be left in “dangerous” situations without support when national funding for mental health hubs ends next month, health leaders have warned.

The hubs, set up with £15 million of government funding for NHS workers following Covid, are being forced to close or reduce services as neither the department for health and social care nor the NHS has confirmed ongoing funding for 2023-24.

This will leave thousands of NHS staff, some of whom are described as “suicidal” in “complete limbo”, The Independent has been told.

The British Psychological Society (BPS) and the Association of Clinical Psychologists said the failure to continue the funding was an “irresponsible” way to treat vulnerable health and care workers.

It comes after The Independent revealed that the number of sick days taken by NHS staff almost doubled in 2022 compared to before the pandemic, costing the NHS billions.

Professor Mike Wang, chair of ACP, said: “There is a clinical responsibility, not to remove a service from individuals who are vulnerable, and in difficulty … the problem with that is that the funding ceases at the end of March and that’s absolutely no time at all to make any [future] provision. So, it’s clinically irresponsible to simply halt a service. Some of these individuals are, you know, carrying suicide risk.”

He said it was “dangerous” and “astonishing” that funding for the hubs was ending “given the present circumstances of continuing effects of the pandemic, clear evidence of underfunding of health care in this country”.

Professor Tony Lavender, workforce and training lead for clinical psychology at BPS, said: “The timing of this couldn’t really be worse. It must be self-evid...