Rest and Reflection


August is traditionally a quieter time for NHS Practitioner Health. It’s a month when we usually see less registrations and when many of our clinicians and therapists take the chance to have a break, follow their own advice and recharge their batteries. This year, more than ever, we need to take that chance for a period of rest and relaxation. We may not be able to get on that flight and dive into that sunny pool in the same way as we have in previous years, but for now at least, the sun is shining here in England and we can enjoy a staycation.

For many of us the last few months have been a whirlwind of activity. Certainly during the latter half of March and through to the end of May many of us have been involved in redesigning the way we work, responding to a new set of needs and requirements and dealing with uncertainty, as we attempt to offer patient care whilst coordinating PPE and the ramifications of Covid-19. This has left very little time for self-care and many of us have been dealing with our own anxieties and stresses around our work, the wellbeing of our loved ones and what the future might hold.

As we moved into June and July we began to see increasing numbers of patients registering with our services and some very specific needs being identified. In particular for those considering a return to the workplace after shielding, for colleagues from black, Asian and ethnic minority communities dealing with their own feelings in the aftermath of the Black Lives Matter marches and from parents who have been juggling the complex needs of their own children alongside their work responsibilities.

Over the last five months we have run more than 240 online events and connected with more than 6,000 health professionals through our new wellbeing services. Almost 1500 have registered with us for mental health services and we have trained and brought on new clinicians, therapists and administrative staff to deal with demand. We have worked with more than 400 volunteers who have offered support either as individual sessions, running webinars or podcasts or provided us with access to a range of free resources and apps for our patients and the NHS workforce to use.

We have learnt new ways of doing things – team meetings on Zoom, numerous WhatsApp groups to keep us connected and the simple power of receiving a birthday card in the post from your team.

Last month we held an international conference “The Wounded Healer in times of Covid” jointly with the BMA. We had attendees and speakers from three continents. Of course, we missed the value of the corridor networking, of unexpected conversations and connections, but we have proved that it is possible to bring together a wonderful range of speakers and almost 700 attendees to share experiences and insights.  

Last week we held our first face to face meeting since March – a chance for us to take stock of the last few months and set our strategic direction for the next period. It was wonderful to be in the same room, to compare our face masks and take pleasure in discussing together without the use of screens. As we talked through all that we had done, what we had been through, what we had heard from our patients and our colleagues and what may be yet to come, we understood how important this month of August 2020 is to our own wellbeing and the wellbeing of NHS Practitioner Health.

August isn’t looking any quieter this year – in fact new registrations are rising and we may see those increasing again as move through the month. We have new developments planned for the autumn, new resources, services and groups as well as opening a new site in Leeds which will take up our time and energies. Our patients need us now and will continue to do so in the months ahead.

That is why it is so important to take that holiday now. We all need a break, some downtime and a chance to rest before we return ready to face a new set of challenges. If you haven’t booked your own time off – take our advice and do it soon!