Leading Royal College Faculty Looks to Employers to Better Support Critical Emergency Workforce

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13 May 2022

A leading medical faculty is calling for employers to take action to better support NHS staff, following the publication of a new report which highlights the growing level of distress experienced by emergency workers.

The Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh (RCSEd)’s Faculty of Pre-Hospital Care has published a series of recommendations to improve working conditions for emergency workers as part of the psychosocial care and mental health of practitioners’ programme.

It has been recommended that practitioners who experience distress should have access to bolstered peer support and safe spaces after attending emergencies and disasters.  The report highlights how the type of distressing situations faced by the pre-hospital workforce cannot be underestimated nor expected not to impact on practitioners – with leaders stating “we are all human.”

This is well recognised and usually well supported by employers through peer support, debriefing and further psychological support when needed.  However, what is notable and less well known is the impact of “secondary stresses”.  It is these recommendations from the report that emergency care staff are looking to employers to address. Typically, these include domestic issues, geographical relocation, long commutes and exams rather than the difficult cases themselves.

The report, named ‘Valuing Staff, Valuing Patients,’ outlines a series of key recommendations to help support those working in critical care roles. It has also prompted leaders at RCSEd to call for action from the NHS to significantly improve working conditions and ensure support for staff – or face a major workforce crisis.

Speaking on Mental Health Awareness Week, (May 9-15) Dr Pamela Hardy, Chair of The Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh’s Faculty of Pre-Hospital Care, said: “Never has there been such a timely report as the psychosocial and mental health of health service workers, who have been so challenged throughout the past two years. The commission began well before the recent pandemic but its added influence and effect on healthcare workers cannot be underestimated.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the very real need for additional social, peer and managerial support, training, and professional supervision among healthcare workers. Staff have continued to provide a 24/7 service throughout the pandemic and are now beyond breaking point.”

The report shows the human cost of distress and mental health problems experienced by staff employed in healthcare settings is huge, extending to their colleagues and families. People who work in pre-hospital care are susceptible to these impacts.

Produced by Professor Richard Williams, Programme Director, and Ms Verity Kemp, Programme Manager, the report states: “The relationships between leaders, managers and staff have been identified as predictors of both wellbeing and people’s absence. Other factors include providing sufficient resources, adequate peer support, adequate information about events, tasks and situational factors, and ensuring effective professional and managerial supervision.

“NHS staff also talk of the importance of having satisfactory arrangements to take breaks and refreshments and of having facilities to rest before driving home after demanding shifts. These wider aspects of working environments also influence whether staff are enabled to cope well and sustain compassionate care for their patients. Again, experiences before and during the COVID-19 pandemic have powerfully illustrated these observations.”

Dr Hardy added: “We hope the recommendations are high on the agenda of all healthcare employers and form an effective guide to improve working conditions for our membership, the wider pre-hospital community, and all those working in healthcare.”

Read the full report here.




Issued by tigerbond on behalf of the Faculty of Pre-hospital Care of the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh. For further information, please contact lisa.boyle@tigerbond.com or 07740 771 109.   


About The Faculty of Pre-hospital Care

  • The Faculty of Pre-hospital Care of The Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh was founded in 1996 by Professor Myles Gibson.
  • Pre-hospital care is a well-established branch of medicine, now practised by a broad range of practitioners from first aiders, paramedics, doctors, nurses, first responders, voluntary aid workers and remote medics including multi agency teams such as police, fire and armed forces.
  • Through its mission statement, the Faculty promotes high standards of pre-hospital care through education, teaching and maintaining standards.
  • The FPHC is probably best known for the provision of the Diploma and Fellowship in Immediate Care examinations, which are held through the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh. More recent exams and Diplomas include the Diploma in Retrieval and Transfer Medicine, the Diploma in Urgent Medical Care and the Diploma in Remote & Offshore Medicine.
  • Through the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh there is a uniqueness of membership that is inclusive of a wide range of practitioners and professions facilitating learning and practice to all with an interest in pre-hospital care.
  • Find FPHC at fphc.ac.uk ,on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

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