Award-winning actor, writer and mental health advocate Stephen Fry has called on the government to fund and protect the NHS staff mental health and well-being hubs in England, a vital lifeline to NHS workers struggling with mental health.
In a video published by the British Psychological Society, which is leading the campaign calling on the government to commit to at least one year’s transitional funding for the hubs, he warns that the closure of the hubs could have a ‘possibly disastrous effect’ on the health service.
Launched in February 2021, in response to the trauma experienced by NHS staff during the Covid pandemic, the hubs have provided NHS and social care staff with fast access to free and confidential local mental health services.
However, government funding ended on 31st March 2023, and with no word from the government on future funding, hubs have been left in limbo, with many forced to close, leaving staff without access to vital mental health services.
Speaking in the video, Stephen Fry commented: “When soldiers come back from a war, we like to think we are proud enough as a nation to support them and support them through all the stresses and anxieties and mental health problems that soldiers have after fighting on the front line in a war. We must do the same with our health workers, surely.”
In February this year, the BPS warned that the government’s failure to commit to funding the hubs was clinically dangerous and that inaction risked placing vulnerable NHS and social care staff in psychological danger. This came after data analysis from 11 hubs showed an average 72% year-on-year increase in referrals from NHS and social care staff seeking help for their own mental health.
The BPS has found up to 13 hubs have already closed or are pending imminent closure, with many more set to close in the coming months as hub teams desperately try to identify alternative funding arrangements to secure the services’ future.
The British Psychological Society is urging its members and members of the public to write to their MP to raise their concerns and to urge the government to protect the future of the hubs.
Organisations including the British Psychological Society, the Royal College of Psychiatrists, NHS Providers, the Association of Clinical Psychologists UK, the British Association for Social Workers, the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy, the Royal College of Physicians, the Royal College of Nursing, and College of Paramedics support the #FundNHSHubs campaign.