• NHSE commissions psychological support for leaders suffering from burnout
  • Army mentorship scheme also on offer
  • Managers’ union warns some managers have been operating without a break since March

Senior NHS leaders are being offered one-to-one psychological support, as well as army mentorship, as the third wave of covid-19 activity reaches new heights.

The NHS England scheme for psychological support will be provided by the Association of Clinical Psychologists and offer a confidential service to senior leaders.

NHSE’s announcement said: “We recognise that some of our senior leaders may be experiencing anxiety, depression or burnout for which they would value a brief psychological intervention.”

The NHSE-commissioned service hopes to offer between three and six sessions of 30-60 minutes. The notice stressed a senior or consultant-grade clinical psychologist would lead the sessions. 

The announcement also offered leaders mentoring from the Centre for Army Leadership. Successful applicants are matched with “an experienced army leadership mentor” and all information provided will be treated in confidence.

Managers in Partnership chief executive Jon Restell told HSJ the trade union supported the move and said senior managers making important decisions needed to be considered in the same way as patient-facing staff.

He said: “There is burnout among senior staff, in many cases they will have been working like this non-stop since March. I have spoken to very experienced, capable managers who say they have reached their limits during the pandemic in ways they have never done before professionally.

“Their ability to support staff and make the big calls is going to be compromised if they are struggling”.

But he added that the bullying culture of many of the regulators towards trust managers meant there might be a reluctance to come forward to schemes like this.

“It’s getting better, but the reality is there is some distrust of the system among local leaders,” he said. “The legacy of performance management might dissuade some people from signing up, which could be dangerous.”