Thanks to charity donations, Leeds Hospitals Charity provided over £1 million to support the health and wellbeing of NHS heroes working at Leeds Teaching Hospitals during the coronavirus pandemic. This included a donation of over £400,000 from the organisation NHS Charities Together, raised by fundraisers all over the country.

So far, this funding has also helped to renovate staff areas including staff rooms on wards and helped fund care packs to boost staff morale.

Four new staff members have also now been appointed as part of an extensive wellbeing programme for frontline health workers, including those who are treating patients with Covid-19. This includes two Clinical Psychologists, a Health and Wellbeing Practitioner and a Mental Health First Aid Project Lead, all of whom will be supporting staff with their mental health needs.

The two psychologists have joined an existing team dedicated to supporting staff who work in some of the most stressful environments across our hospitals. Their support has enabled staff who normally work in other departments, who have been exposed to upsetting situations during Covid-19, to access the additional support they need.

Jason Miller, one of the Clinical Psychologists, supports staff in the Cardio-Respiratory teams. He has seen first-hand the impact the pandemic has had on staff, “In the first wave, staff were running on adrenaline, and although they have fantastic clinical and medical training, none of them were emotionally prepared for these months and months of hardship. Our staff are so dedicated and selfless, they want to do whatever they can to help their patients and some felt ashamed to say they were struggling.”

“I’m so pleased that many of the staff felt comfortable to speak up about how they’re feeling and approach us for help. My job is to reassure them that ‘it’s ok not to be ok’, our staff are dealing with emotionally and physically draining situations on a daily basis. I hope that the one positive change triggered by the coronavirus pandemic, is that there continues to be more onus put on psychological support for all staff.”

Thanks to the charity support, a programme of mental health first aid training is also due to be rolled out for NHS staff over the coming months. This training will give staff the tools they need to provide the best possible peer-to-peer support for colleagues who are struggling during these difficult times. A dedicated staff chaplain will also be appointed using charity funds.

Charity CEO Esther Wakeman says “Our NHS colleagues are working so hard during this time and they always prioritise their patients, so we are pleased to be able to do something that  supports them. When they spend a full day in PPE and can’t even hug their colleagues at the end of a hard shift, it is important that there are other ways for them to access support.”