3 September 2021 - Mental health network - governance during the COVID-19 pandemic

06 September 2021

The mental health chairs network weekly webinars resumed this week, opening with a discussion on the proposed clinical standards for mental health, which are currently being piloted in some areas. The proposed standards expect responses within 24 hours for urgent community-based services or four hours for very urgent cases, one hour for A&E cases and four weeks for non-urgent community responses.

Overheard during this week’s webinar:

[On workforce morale] “While people have been able to take a break, there is a sense of fragility and people are reacting more than they might, and appear more stressed and anxious. It feels like there is an undercurrent running through services which are affecting people more dramatically than they might have. We are focused on staff wellbeing and how to approach this, alongside how we return to normal and support people to embrace this.”

“There is increasing pressure on staffing levels, and we’re using more bank and agency staff. What will be the game-changer that changes this in the long term? I have heard our local university has had record numbers of nursing applications, but they don’t have the capacity to take them all in.”

“Our adult inpatient mental health unit – ranging from adult, low secure and PICU – has all beds full and more demand for them than there has been. The consequence of this is we have more people out of county than ever before. The wards themselves are also being staffed by many agency staff as there are vacancies. This also has a knock-on effect on community staff, who are having to manage a level of risk and acuity which isn’t positive.”

“We had an incident where a member of staff was assaulted, and there was no interest from the CPS in prosecuting. There is a fine balance to be struck between accountability, justice, fairness and compassionate care, but it is difficult for staff if incidents like this are just seen as part of the job.”

“We are trying to find ways to use assets we already have to tackle the significant problems we are facing. For example, we have had a significant number of evacuees from Afghanistan, and are considering how to support the existing community of Afghanistan refugees from 25–30 years ago to support people arriving today.”

These meetings are by invitation only. For further details, visit our events page.

If you have any comments, questions or suggestions about these webinars, please contact: events@good-governance.org.uk