Research by BU’s Professor Ann Luce has been cited in a House of Commons report around improving NHS mental health services.
The report was produced by the House of Commons Public Accounts Committee, which heard evidence of increasing pressures on NHS mental health staff at a time of spiking demand.
Professor Luce provided written evidence around the suicide risk to NHS mental health staff and the impact that it has on care, which served as the underpinning evidence for one of six recommendations that the committee made in the report.
Professor Luce, a Professor of Journalism and Health Communication at BU, has been researching in the area of suicide prevention for over 18 years, including research into mental health and suicide in the NHS.
The inquiry heard that 17,000 staff (12%) left the NHS mental health workforce in 2021-22, up from pre-pandemic levels of around 14,000 a year. Those citing work-life balance reasons for leaving increased from 4% in 2012-13 to 14% in 2021-22, and the percentage of days lost from the workforce due to psychiatric reasons has doubled in a decade.
The report warns that increased workload is leading to burnout for remaining staff, which contributes to a higher rate of staff turnover and a resulting vicious cycle of more staff shortages.
Dame Meg Hillier MP, Chair of the Committee, said: “NHS mental health staff deal with some of the most challenging care needs there are. Staff in this space deserve not just our heartfelt gratitude for the job they do, but concrete support and training to work as part of well-staffed workplaces. Our report warns of a vicious cycle, in which staff shortages and morale both worsen in self-reinforcing parallel."
NHS England and the Government now have six months to respond to the report and its recommendations.