Back in March, when we launched our urgent Covid-19 appeal, we had no idea how much it would capture the support of the UK public. Thanks to you, we have raised over £140 million to support NHS workers, volunteers and patients at the centre of this crisis.

We got to work immediately, getting funds out to NHS charities across the country, distributing £30m quickly to meet urgent needs on the ground – providing somewhere comfortable so staff and volunteers could take a break; electronic-tablets so patients, staff and volunteers could stay in contact with loved ones; bereavement support for families who lost loved ones; and counselling for staff to protect their mental health and help them process what they were dealing with.

Since then we have allocated another £68m to provide support in three specific areas and put £12m aside in case of a second Covid wave. The first of those areas is focused on helping vital partnerships outside hospitals, such as hospices, community healthcare and social care, so patients returning home have access to the care they need to recover.

We have also been working with our members to identify where additional support is most urgently needed by NHS staff, volunteers and patients in their area, with a particular focus on support for people who are being disproportionately affected by the Covid crisis, such as patients and staff from the BAME communities and high-risk groups like those living with disabilities.

As the recent report by Public Health England made starkly clear, people from BAME backgrounds are being particularly hard hit by Covid-19.  NHS England figures in June showed that hospital deaths per 100,000 among British people of a black Caribbean background were three times the equivalent number among the white British population. NHS staff and volunteers of colour are at greater risk than their colleagues and we are working with our members to identify how we can get additional support to them to counter that.  

We are also just beginning to see the impact of this crisis on the mental health and wellbeing of NHS staff and volunteers. Their resilience throughout the crisis has been remarkable, but what they have had to deal with on behalf of all of us will leave a mark.   

In a poll conducted in April, half of healthcare workers said that their mental health had dropped since the virus began taking its toll. 71% of younger health professionals, who are likely to be inexperienced and early in their careers, said their mental health had deteriorated.  

In another survey of 3,500 nurses, commissioned by Nursing Times, almost all nursing staff are feeling more stressed and anxious than usual: 87% of respondents rated themselves as either “a lot” or “a little” more stressed at work than usual, while 90% said they were “a lot” or “a little” more anxious than before the outbreak. Over 50% described themselves as “a lot” more anxious or stressed than usual.  

As a result, we are putting a real focus on ways NHS charities can help staff to improve their mental health and wellbeing, and we are already seeing tangible results with the creation of wellbeing rooms within hospitals, places where staff can get away from the stresses of the job and properly switch off.  Our members are also examining how they can provide longer term support through investing in helplines, ensuring there are mental health first aiders available to as many staff as possible and increasing access to talking therapies and longer-term support.  We cannot allow the mental health of NHS staff and volunteers, the people who have been there for us throughout the crisis, to be a long-term casualty. 

Finally, we are also directing funding to help NHS staff, volunteers and services recover from the long term impact of the crisis once it has abated, so we can do what we can to reduce the long-term impact on them and the people they care about.