BSUH uses health and psychotherapy service to improve staff wellbeing


Donna Butler, lead psychotherapist and HELP service manager at Brighton and Sussex University Hospitals NHS Trust (BSUH), strongly believes that to ensure the professional and compassionate patient care that is expected within the NHS, it is vital to maintain the wellbeing and health of staff.

The organisation, therefore, launched a health, learning and psychotherapy service for its 8,500 employees in May 2009.

The HELP service includes a number of interventions designed to positively impact employee wellness; these include group debriefs following traumatic incidents in the workplace, stress management workshops, and advice resources for managers and senior leaders.

Butler says: “We try preventative measures. When people start in the trust we hold a corporate induction and say ‘this may never happen to you, but it might, or it may happen to a colleague or a manager and this might help you to spot the signs in your workforce, and to signpost the services available’.”

If an employee is upset about a work situation, mediation is used to help resolve the problem before it is escalated to HR. Staff members can talk privately to individuals within the HELP team or with their manager; occasionally, employees choose to talk to both the HELP team and their manager together.

BSUH undertook market stall type promotions across two of its sites in June and July 2018. “It’s great speaking to new employees at corporate inductions, but what about the employees who have been working here for the past 15 years or more?” says Butler. “We set up a market stall in the medical school [at the Royal Sussex County site] and on the Princess Royal site where people have lunch, asking ‘do you know about the services?’

“We want to create awareness that this is normal. We don’t hide it. It helps people to carry on their work.”

BSUH aims to host the market stall promotions on an annual basis, but the organisation is also in the process of preparing monthly video updates, covering different subjects, to aid engagement. These are due to start in the spring of 2019.

The HELP service, which replaced a pre-existing employee assistance programme, currently supports around 500 members of staff every year with individual psychotherapy and counselling.