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Labour proposes fast-tracked mental health services for NHS and care workers

THREE million NHS and care workers under strain during the coronavirus pandemic should receive fast-tracked access to mental health services, according to new proposals by the Labour Party.

These include a new 24/7 national hotline, follow-up support, intervention and treatment, including psychological therapies, and support to use other help services such as those linked to alcohol and addiction. 

The scheme will be open to cleaners, porters and support staff who work in the healthcare sector.

And it could be delivered at £25 per head, according to the party’s costings, amounting to almost £78 million in total if all 3.1m eligible staff members use the service.

Shadow mental health minister Dr Rosena Allin-Khan said: “Even before the pandemic hit, the case for investing in this kind of support was clear.

“Coronavirus has exacerbated the existing crisis in mental health.

“Many NHS and social care staff have been scared of going to work and they have lost patients and colleagues.

“It has been heartbreaking to witness the toll this virus has taken on staff mental health.

“Current support is not good enough and without a tailored, fast-tracked service for staff who have faced death and despair every day for over three months, our front-line heroes will continue to be failed. We need to care for our carers.”

GMB union’s national secretary Rehana Azam said key workers have faced “unprecedented” levels of stress in recent months.

The union cited increases in post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, anxiety and addiction problems.

Ms Azam said: “GMB is pleased that Labour have recognised the mental health crisis our workers face and hope the government recognise this and look seriously at these proposals.”

Care England, the largest representative body for independent providers of adult social care, also welcomed the plans.

Professor Martin Green, its chief executive, said: “Covid-19 has put even more emotional pressures on adult social care workers and it is of paramount importance that we support them.”

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