Time to talk at North East Ambulance Service

Trust pledges its support for Blue Light campaign

North East Ambulance Service has confirmed its commitment to the mental health of its staff by signing up to a national campaign, ahead of Time to Talk day on Thursday, 4 February.

With a workforce of more than 2,500 members of staff, the majority of which work on the frontline, NEAS has formally recognised the need to look after its staff by pledging its support to the Blue Light Time to Change Campaign, run by mental health charity Mind.

The pledge was signed by Yvonne Ormston, Chief Executive, and Caroline Thurlbeck, Director of Strategy, Transformation and Workforce, at the Trust’s headquarters in Newcastle.

Evidence shows that one in four people in the UK experience a mental health problem in any given year. People working in the emergency services are even more at risk of experiencing a mental health problem than the general population, but are less likely to get support.

To support the pledge, NEAS is encouraging extra training for managers, carried out by Mind staff, asking members of staff to become Blue Light Champions and taking part a Workplace Wellness Programme pilot with Loughborough College, which encourages staff to take ownership of their health, including mental health.

Ms Ormston said: “I am extremely proud of our workforce that is dedicated to providing the best possible patient care, often in incredibly difficult circumstances.

“By the very nature of their jobs, our crews out on the road and call handlers in our contact centre never know what they are walking into when they start their shifts each day. Some of the calls and incidents they deal with can be incredibly challenging and have a lasting impact on them. 

“Mental health isn’t just important for frontline staff though.  In order to look after ourselves, our staff and our patients, we need to have a healthy workforce, both physically and mentally and it is incredibly important that we do all we can as a Trust to look after all of our staff and recognise when they need extra support.”

North East Ambulance Service employees already have access to a dedicated occupational health team with a range of support available for employees managing conditions such as stress and anxiety.

In 2015, the Trust also invested more than 50 new front line management roles to work closely with and provide additional support for emergency care staff 24 hours a day. In the first three months of the new role being introduced, more than 200 debriefs and staff welfare checks took place following difficult incidents.

To find out more about the Mind Blue Light Programme, visit http://www.mind.org.uk/news-campaigns/campaigns/bluelight/

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