Birmingham Women's and Children's NHS Trust staff support

As part of their focus on the health and wellbeing of their employees, the trust has introduced a number of initiatives to support their staff including trainers and doctors in training. Our research suggests that where there is a supportive working environment trainers and trainees are less likely to feel burnt out.  
In recent years the national staff and training surveys indicated that employees at the trust felt increasingly under pressure at work, and that instances of stress were becoming more common. After some initial engagement sessions with staff the trust identified some simple interventions they could make to better support their employees.

The trust introduced an employee assistance programme run by an external organisation, providing around the clock access to a trained counsellor for triage. At a cost of around £40,000 per year, the trust thinks this service provides good value for money for a trust of their size. This includes six sessions of counselling for every employee who requires it. The trust has 5,500 members of staff and anyone, and their families, can use the service. Around 10% of employees do so each year.

Most importantly, the trust believes strongly in constantly listening to staff and has undertaken many different listening sessions and events.  The trust ran a workshop for around 25 doctors in training involved in their 'Hospital at Night' rota as they noticed increased sickness levels. Trainees fed back on what went well and areas that weren’t working and developed a list of improvements. These included:

  • feeding back to consultants about handover
  • improving the labs system to allow for add on tests (which save time)
  • and redeveloping and re-communicating the bleep policy and bleep etiquette.

Recently one of the doctors in training said that she had seen a marked difference in communication between the consultants and trainees. It had improved morale and enabled better conversations. They have also experienced smoother working, less wasted time and better handover.

The trust has been delighted with the impact of these initiatives, but acknowledges that there is still progress to be made, especially around consultants accepting that it’s OK not to be OK and to ask for help. However they believe that the resilience and wellbeing of doctors in training in particular has improved. The next steps are to continue to develop the offer for staff, with a focus on empowering employees to take personal responsibility for their own health and wellbeing.