THE mental heath of staff at Swindon's hospital will be treated as a "really important" priority as fighting the coronavirus pandemic continues to take its toll on NHS workers.

Great Western Hospital chief executive Kevin McNamara acknowledged the issue at the annual members’ meeting this week.

He said: “We want this to be a truly open organisation and for there to be a huge focus on mental health. 

“We are conscious that staff have been working in unfamiliar circumstances and have had psychologically difficult decisions to make.” 

The GWH Trust revealed its Health and Wellbeing Plan, which sets out measures to develop staff wellbeing.

A 24-hour support helpline from the Employee Assistance Programme provides psychological help to employees.

Trauma risk management supports staff through traumatic events that occurs at work while Schwartz Rounds allow staff to come together to discuss the emotional impact of working in healthcare in a confidential setting.

End of shift ‘huddles’ are briefings where teams review events and promote team physical and emotional safety

GWH bosses also want to focus on promoting physical health and wellbeing with smoking and obesity initiatives. 

They hope to reduce the violence levelled against staff members and support staff affected by abuse. 

The 2020 NHS staff survey revealed GWH was below average on four scores – but this was still an improvement on 2019 where 20 scores were below average. 

The trust is looking to improve these scores and said the 2020 results were "not the limit of our ambition". 

Mr McNamara also highlighted the success of Great West Fest – a family fun day to celebrate and thank the whole ‘GWH family’. The Staff Excellence Awards ceremony, which recognises staff achievements will take place on November 5.

Trust chairman Liam Coleman said: “Coronavirus has been a marathon followed by another marathon then another marathon. 

“Credit should be paid to the staff who have responded in the way they have.”
Governor Pauline Cooke added: “It has been the worst year in the whole existence of the NHS.

“The staff deserve a special mention. I have been humbled by stories of the community coming together to provide food to staff while staff support their families through coronavirus.”