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New NHS framework published to assure quality of mental health inpatient staff

Luke Aldred, Head of Sanctuary Mental Health, writes about the importance of recruiting the right professionals across mental health inpatient wards – as set out in the new NHS framework.

The introduction of the new Mental Health Staffing Framework marks reassuring support for mental health leaders, who strive to recruit the best quality staff for their teams. It’s not just about maintaining staffing levels; those who work in mental health settings will be acutely aware of the need for the right professionals, with the right skills, to treat those with mental illness.

The ability to provide care and compassion in diverse situations, from supporting children to the elderly, to helping people in times of crisis or with long-term conditions, not to mention the demands of our ageing population, is a vital quality – and one that isn’t necessarily evident from a CV. 

As a specialist recruiter for mental health services, we speak to a broad range of mental health professionals on a daily basis – many of whom have been supported by the same recruitment consultant at Sanctuary for a number of years. Not only do we hear of the type of work they get involved in, but we get to know their interpersonal skills and ability to handle situations. This is invaluable when looking to match candidates with our clients’ vacancies. 

Similarly, identifying specific need to recruit the right people is a key focus of the new framework. Commissioned as part of the NHS England’s ‘Compassion in Practice programme’, it has been developed to form a practical and interactive guide, with tools, resources and examples of good practice to help mental health leaders plan and deliver safe staffing. Checklists, timelines, step-by-step processes, downloadable sheets and useful links form part of the guidance. 

It was recognised that the National Quality Board’s (NQB) document ‘How to ensure the right people, with the right skills are in the right place at the right time’ is less established for mental health settings than for acute care. The new guide ‘Mental Health Staffing: A Practical Guide’ has been designed to address this gap, whilst still meeting the NQB’s expectations. However, even with this purpose-designed framework, an emphasis has been placed on leaders adapting the guidance to make it work in their own environment. 

The framework certainly highlights the key foundations of staffing a mental health inpatient ward and, in doing so, recognises the complexities. Within our role as a recruiter, we understand our responsibilities in meeting these expectations and will continue to take active steps in recruiting the right professionals for our clients’ positions, whilst offering our candidates ongoing support throughout their placements.

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Madeleine E. Chadwick, 23 September 2015, 09:13 AM
What can I say? This is an excellent, meaningful resource and one long awaited for.
Thank you Luke rom an almost disenchanted Senior Nurse Tutor Mental Health.
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