Birmingham & Black Country

Coronavirus: NHS staff being offered trauma therapy

Nurses at a testing centre in Wolverhampton Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption As cases of Covid-19 decline, staff become more at risk from psychological trauma

NHS staff dealing with the coronavirus crisis are being offered support by trauma experts skilled in helping war veterans and terror attack survivors.

Psychological health consultancy March on Stress is working with a Birmingham health trust and others across the UK.

As the number of cases decline, staff are more at risk from psychological trauma, an NHS spokesman said.

The pandemic could have a "long-lasting impact" on workers' mental health, the spokesman added.

Image caption The trust runs City Hospital in Birmingham and Sandwell General Hospital in West Bromwich

"As the pandemic has started to slow, people have had the brain space to reflect on the level of emotion, including fight or flight response and new feelings are coming out," Raffaela Goodby, director of People and Organisation Development for the Sandwell and West Birmingham NHS Trust said.

Staff may have "feelings of guilt and reflection" such as "I should have done something differently" and the support aimed to address such feelings.

The trust added staff were "experiencing patients passing away rapidly or unexpectedly" during the crisis and that staff also had "feelings of uncertainty" for their own health and for family members.

March on Stress said it had adapted its training to help NHS staff "under a high level of pressure".

Image copyright Justin Grainge/March on Stress
Image caption Prof Neil Greenberg served the armed forces as a psychiatrist and researcher in hostile environments

Hospital line managers are trained to have "psychologically-savvy conversations" to gauge staff members' feelings, particularly at the end of shifts.

Prof Neil Greenberg, the consultancy's head, said such talks aimed to make workers "feel safe in speaking about distress".

"It should both protect the mental health of the team members and increase the likelihood that staff members can remain at work having found a way to resolve the difficulties they are facing," he said.

SWBH is also training about 250 volunteer mental health first aiders to help colleagues, the Local Democracy Reporting Service said.

The trust said it was part of long-term plans to "support our colleagues to remain mentally well and resilient".

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