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Mental Health: Supporting NHS Workforce Resilience

  • Wednesday, 10 November 2021
  • Pendulum Hotel & Manchester Conference Centre
  • 08:30 - 17:05
Expert Speakers
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  • Overview

Join us at Mental Health: Supporting NHS Workforce Resilience to explore innovative recommendations to support and improve the psychological wellbeing of NHS staff through examples of best practice from leading organisations across the NHS.

Our fully CPD Accredited programme of expert speakers will feature an overview of the challenges and opportunities ahead with guidance from organisations such as Mersey Care NHS Trust, Medway Community Healthcare and Greater Manchester Resilience Hub plus more.

The conference will discuss workforce-lead peer support schemes which provide fundamental training in mental health counselling for NHS staff, equipping them with the skills to provide confidential listening services to colleagues; as well as exploring the model used to establish 40 new NHS staff mental health hubs across England. Their will be further discussions around how a trust can learn and improve when care does not go as expected.

Open Forum Events are delighted to be gaining a reputation for “truly inspirational” health and social care conferences. Our delegates are telling us that they leave our events with “new ideas and approaches” they can “actually apply” within their own organisations. We are proud to be recognised as a leading organiser of national conferences.

Caring for the mental health and psychological wellbeing of the NHS' people is essential in delivering world class care and patient safety. COVID-19 thrust front line NHS staff under a spotlight; but as the applause fades, the people who make-up the NHS will be asked to carry on.

The day-to-day challenges facing NHS workers have never been so stark. Researchers at King's College London surveyed staff in nine ICUs across England about how they coped during the pandemic - 45% of 709 respondents met the threshold for probable clinical significance for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) (39%), severe anxiety (11%), problem drinking (7%) and severe depression (6%). In August, NHS Providers surveyed 140 leaders from NHS Trusts and Foundations across England, almost all (99%) said they were extremely or moderately concerned by the current level of burnout across the workforce. The Doctor's Association UK undertook a poll of 1,758 doctors across the UK, when asked where they saw themselves working in the next one-to-three years, 65% (1,143) of respondents said they would be leaving the NHS; 45% cited the impact of the pandemic on their mental health as a driving factor in their considerations. 

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  • Confirmed Speakers

  • Event Programme


Registration in the Networking Area


Chair's Opening Address

  • Kirsty Brewerton, Registered NHS Nurse and Chief Executive Officer, Sitting Rooms of Culture (confirmed)
  • Amanda Oates, Executive Director of Workforce, Mersey Care NHS Trust (confirmed)
"How can a Trust learn and improve when care does not go as expected?"

Mersey Care NHS Foundation Trust identified barriers in its own internal culture that had prevented the adoption of an environment where staff felt supported and empowered to learn from situations where care has not gone as expected - the Trust undertook work to establish a transparent, open, 'Just and Learning Culture' that asked "what was responsible, not who was responsible".

The Trust worked with internationally recognised expert in restorative justice and author of best-selling book 'Just Culture', Professor Sidney Dekker, as well as assessing best practices in industries like airlines, nuclear technology, oil and exploration as workforces that engage with daily tasks knowing that there is always an element of risk. Mersey Care introduced initiatives and recommendations to promote openness and transparency in order to accelerate the rate of care improvement at the Trust:

  • 100% of leaders Band 7 and above (or equivalent) have been assessed and developed a plan to support their teams in a Just and Learning environment.
  • Supporting colleagues’ psychological safety by introducing bullying awareness programmes for staff based on a preventative approach to recognising bullying behaviours and development of a process to resolve issues.
  • Development of a standardised framework to support learning from incidents in a manner that ensures risks are addressed and learning is maximised.
  • Produce a guide for colleagues and service users on Just and Learning expectations to describe the shared responsibility between individuals, teams and the organisation to create a safe and compassionate environment. 
  • Dr Farnaaz Sharief MBE, Medical Director, Medway and Swale Integrated Care Partnership, Medway Community Healthcare (confirmed)
"Managing Your Mind"

Manage Your Mind (MYM) is an award-winning, community-based service for adults affected by stress, anxiety and depression developed by Dr Farnaaz Sharief MBE to equip participants with the tools and exercises to manage stress, develop increased resilience and avoid burnout. MYM began delivering pilot programmes to NHS health professionals in primary care and acute hospitals across North Kent in 2021.


MYM is now an NHS certified training programme, with those completing it being awarded 12 CPD points. Taught by clinicians, the programme consists of online or face-to-face introductory sessions, followed by a face-to-face course delivered over three consecutive days. The MYM programme has been evaluated and endorsed by three regional recognised bodies, which found that:

  • Those who completed the whole programme reported an 80% reduction in anxiety levels and a 75% reduction in levels of depression.
  • 83% of participants completing the whole programme said they did not need to see their GP for anxiety, depression or similar after MYM training.
  • Those who participated in one or more weekly sessions reported a 30% reduction in anxiety levels and a 22% reduction in depression levels.
  • Everyone who completed the MYM programme said they would recommend the workshop to others and felt they got the help that mattered to them.    

ITV broadcast a televised-report on the benefits of MYM that can be watched here:


Question & Answer Session

  • Amanda Oates, Executive Director of Workforce, Mersey Care NHS Trust (confirmed)
  • Dr Farnaaz Sharief MBE, Medical Director, Medway and Swale Integrated Care Partnership, Medway Community Healthcare (confirmed)

Coffee in the Networking Area

  • Dr Alan Barrett, Consultant Clinical Psychologist and Clinical Lead (Adults), Greater Manchester Resilience Hub (confirmed)
  • Jenni Willbourn, Clinical Team Leader, Greater Manchester Resilience Hub (confirmed)
"NHS Mental Health Hubs"

The NHS is setting up 40 new mental health hubs for its staff across England who have struggled during the pandemic. NHS personnel will be able to receive advice and be referred for support from psychologists, mental health nurses and recovery workers. Frontline staff will be encouraged to engage with the service(s) and hubs will proactively reach-out to staff deemed to be in the highest risk groups i.e. those who work in intensive care, on Covid wards and in A&E.


40 hubs will open providing one-to-one and online support, including services in London, Lancashire and Bedfordshire - modelled on the Greater Manchester Resilience Hub; established to help NHS staff who treated victims and survivors of the Manchester Arena attack in May 2017. The GM Hub has helped more than 4,000 health and social care staff since it's establishment (including during the pandemic) and this presentation will explore transferrable benefits from the GM model that can be adapted to support staff through the national NHS mental health hub initiatives.

  • Dr Parth Patel, Research Fellow, Work and Welfare State Team, Institute for Public Policy Research (confirmed)
"Recover, Reward, Renew: A post-pandemic plan for the healthcare workforce"

The Institute for Public Policy Research published Recover, Reward, Renew: A post-pandemic plan for the healthcare workforce - a report setting out recommendations for improving the working conditions and wellbeing of the UK's carers; arguing that the British state must channel the magnitude of the moment akin to post-war societal transformations of the past: 'The first world war had 'homes fit for heroes'; the second world war had 'from cradle to grave'; the coronavirus pandemic needs 'care fit for carers'.'


The report draws on new IPPR /YouGov polling of 1,006 healthcare professionals and proposes a strategy to support staff who are struggling, retain those that are considering leaving and attract new people to join the sectors; based around three core principles:

  1. Recover: Addressing fatigue, burnout and mental health problems in healthcare workers. The report suggests scaling-up strengthened mental health support for all NHS staff, guaranteeing annual leave entitlements for five years and making flexible working available to all without conditional requirements.
  2. Reward: Realigning contribution and reward in health and care - providing a progressive pay rise package and a real living wage guarantee for care workers. 
  3. Renew: Creating the conditions and opportunities to make the NHS one of the best places to work - expanding workplace benefits for all staff, including meal vouchers, travel costs reimbursement and staff room upgrades; taking action to eliminate institutional prejudices and introducing a portable health and care competency system to allow staff to work across a range of settings and regions.

Case Study

  • Neelum Prakash, VP International Sales and Operations, Headspace for Work (confirmed)

Headspace is a global leader in mindfulness and meditation, with more than 70 million members across 190 countries. Headspace was one of the first meditation apps in the world and remains a leader in mindfulness and mental training through its app and online content offerings that cover everything from stress, movement, sleep, focus and more.


Headspace also operates a B2B business (Headspace for Work) to offer its mindfulness products and services to more than 2,200 companies, such as Starbucks, Adobe, Hyatt and Unilever, to help them build healthier, more productive cultures and higher performing organizations. Headspace for Work is an upstream, preventative workplace mental health solution that focuses on keeping healthy people healthy, not just on treating the unwell. Their strategy is to reduce stress, thereby reducing the negative consequences of unmanaged stress.


Headspace is currently available at no cost to NHS employees with a registered NHS email address.


Question & Answer Session

Dr Alan Barrett, Consultant Clinical Psychologist and Clinical Lead (Adults), Greater Manchester Resilience Hub (confirmed)

Jenni Willbourn, Clinical Team Leader, Greater Manchester Resilience Hub (confirmed)

Dr Parth Patel, Research Fellow, Work and Welfare State Team, Institute for Public Policy Research (confirmed)

Neelum Prakash, VP International Sales and Operations, Headspace for Work (confirmed)



We'll be working with venues to ensure lunch at our events is as delicious as ever and caters for a range of dietary preferences - whilst being served in a safe and seamless manner. Some of the new measures we will be introducing to this effect are:

  • One-way queuing systems with safe distancing in operation.
  • Individual snacking bags containing fruit, trail mix and sweets provided on arrival - this will prevent people mixing around snack bars during networking breaks.
  • Individually portioned dishes and pre-sealed cutlery will be served at collection points.  

Where possible, we will request food is sourced locally to reduce food miles, use seasonal vegetables, red tractor certified meat and eggs from free range hens.


Chair's Afternoon Address

Kirsty Brewerton, Chief Executive Officer, Sitting Rooms of Culture CIC and Registered Bank Nurse (confirmed)

  • Anita Charlesworth, Director of Research and REAL (Research and Economic Analysis for the Long Term) Centre, The Health Foundation (confirmed)

The Health Foundation has produced a series of publications analysing NHS England staff trends and making policy recommendations to sustain the NHS workforce. The fourth annual NHS workforce trends report provided a detailed analysis of long-term trends and insights into the size and composition of the NHS England workforce. Falling Short: the NHS Workforce Challenge addresses shortages in nursing, general practice and primary care as well as looking to other pressure points like training new student nurses to deliver appropriate levels of care, retention of existing staff and the political context in which international recruitment programmes are taking place. The report concluded that the NHS will need to recruit 5,000 international nurses per-annum in order to prevent increases in unfilled posts - latest figures demonstrate just 1,600 international recruits came to the NHS in 2017/18. Nursing is significantly understaffed and pressurised - the modest growth in nurses working within the NHS is outstripped by demand; with vacancies reaching reaching almost 44,000 in the first quarter of 2019/20 - equivalent to 12% of the nursing workforce.


This presentation will look at a series of high-impact policy actions that could be at the heart of a workforce implementation plan, including:

  • The government should consider significantly increasing the financial support to nursing students by providing 'cost of living' grants of around £5,200 a year on top of the means-tested loans system.
  • The NHS should build on the NHS Constitution and provide an explicit statement of the 'universal offer' to staff; including, but not limited to: their legal rights and what staff can expect in terms of pay and opportunity, continuing professional development, work-life balance and appraisals. 
  • Expanding current workforce development budgets in order to support the continued professional development (CPD) of NHS staff. 

Local authorities have always had a role in promoting the wider determinants of public health and maintaining service provision. This session will review policies and initiatives backed by local authorities to support the mental health and wellbeing of NHS staff.

"Scottish Government Initiative: Supporting Workforce Resilience with Psychoeducation and Digital Tools"

The Foundation for Positive Mental Health charity and the app company Positive Rewards Ltd have long experience in delivering psychoeducation and coaching programmes to Health and Social care staff. At the beginning of the pandemic, they decided to start running free psychoeducation and recovery workshops for health and social care staff in some areas, supported by the app. Since September 2020 they have been working with the Scottish Government to deliver this programme to all H&SC staff and unpaid carers across the whole of Scotland (900,000 people). These webinars have been well received and have shown good app uptake and outcomes, some webinars have had over 600 attendees and will continue to be delivered until April 2022.


The programme is based on a Swedish Olympic coaching programme, so is entirely non stigmatising and has been evaluated in many theatres, recovery from clinical distress (i.e. depression, anxiety), stroke rehabilitation, staff wellbeing and burnout.  We have also established the mechanism of distress and recovery which has revealed an interesting interaction with memory.


Alastair will talk about the use of the programme in the arena of staff wellbeing and recovery post pandemic.


Question & Answer Session

Anita Charlesworth, Director of Research and REAL (Research and Economic Analysis for the Long Term) Centre, The Health Foundation (confirmed)

Dr Zahid Chauhan OBE, Cabinet Member for Health and Social Care, Oldham Council (confirmed)

Dr Alastair Dobbin, Director, Foundation for Positive Mental Health and Honorary Fellow, College of Medicine and Veterinary Medicine, Edinburgh University (confirmed)


Afternoon Refreshment Break

"Giving a Voice to Those Bereaved by Suicide and Those Responsible for Their Care"

Sharon McDonnell is the Managing Director of Suicide Bereavement UK (SBUK) and Honorary Research Fellow at the University of Manchester (UoM). Her work is internationally recognised. Prior to setting up SBUK, Sharon worked at the Centre for Mental Health and Safety at the UoM, which is the largest suicide prevention research department internationally.  During her time at the university, Sharon and her team conducted a three year study, which informed the development of evidence-based suicide bereavement training, entitled ‘Postvention Assisting Those Bereaved by Suicide’ (PABBS), which is first of its kind internationally. Sharon is currently leading a large scale national suicide bereavement survey, which aims to identify the experiences and perceived needs of those bereaved or affected by suicide. A report will be launched in 2020.  Findings will be of national and international importance. Sharon has been personally bereaved by suicide.

  • Rhian Monteith, National Lead for High Intensity Use Programme, NHS England and NHS Improvement (confirmed)
"High Intensity Use Programme"

Rhian, an advanced paramedic, founded a de-medicalised and de-criminalised approach to reducing activity of some of the most vulnerable people in society  people who access care more than expected. As National Lead for High Intensity Use Programmes for NHS England and NHS Improvement, Rhian supports organisations interested in designing a bespoke HIU programme for their communities, based on local system needs.


With a varied portfolio, Rhian recently designed and led the Rotating Paramedic Programme for Health Education England, which enables Specialist and Advanced Paramedics to work to the limit of their licence. One of Rhian’s proudest accomplishments is being Founder of the Switch Model® – switching mindsets and behaviours by developing emotional agility within the workforce. Thinking out, being brave, and making a positive impact to people, is always at the heart of Rhian’s work.

  • Liam Barnes, Founder, The Laura Hyde Foundation (confirmed)

The Laura Hyde Foundation (LHF) was established in response to the tragic passing of a young naval nurse, Laura Hyde, who suffered with mental health issues whilst providing care and support for others. The Foundation's Mission Statement is: To ensure that all medical and emergency services personnel have access to the best mental health support network available. The LHF has set-out a series of actionable pledges to build and develop focused, relevant mental health support networks for those working in emergency services. This presentation will explore LHF initiatives, such as:

  • Funding and oversight of a wellbeing programme for medical students at 14 separate universities in the Midlands and South West; providing our future doctors and nurses with access to self-help techniques for coping with trauma exposure, resilience training and modular teaching by charity-funded staff.
  • Developing clinical whitepapers and self-help material in-unison with the LHF's charity-funded clinical leads covering self-help which will be linked in to employee handbooks.
  • Working with local NHS Trusts to develop and manage a free-to-use online forum for NHS staff, providing a secure space to share experiences; building a community where NHS staff can seek and access support.
  • Funding wellbeing initiatives such as art and pet therapy sessions - providing opportunities to engage with stress-relieving programmes.          

Question & Answer Session

  • Dr Sharon McDonnell, Managing Director, Suicide Bereavement UK (confirmed)
  • Rhian Monteith, National Lead for High Intensity Use Programme, NHS England and NHS Improvement (confirmed)
  • Liam Barnes, Founder, The Laura Hyde Foundation (confirmed)

Chair's Closing Remarks and Event Close

  • Kirsty Brewerton, Registered NHS Nurse and Chief Executive Officer, Sitting Rooms of Culture (confirmed)
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Contact Details




Pendulum Hotel & Manchester Conference Centre

Pendulum Hotel & Manchester Conference Centre

Pendulum Hotel & Manchester Conference Centre is the ideal solution when searching for conference venues in Manchester. Top-of-the-range conference suites, 3 star value hotel accommodation, delicious dining and friendly service are the ideal components for a successful conference or event in the heart of the city centre.

The 18 conference rooms are decked out with all the mod cons including state-of-the-art AV technology, projectors and screens, free Wi-Fi and flip charts. Our clients cover the whole spectrum and include government organisations, trade unions, large corporate companies, non-profit organisations, health and education sectors and small to medium-sized businesses.

From the get-go we strive for excellence in everything we do and our dedicated team of conference professionals go all out to make sure your conference, event or exhibition runs like clockwork.

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  • Meeting Mental Health Needs: Practical Interventions to Improve Services

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    Workforce Mental Health

who will attend

  • Acute and Community Mental Health Services
  • Allied Health Professionals
  • Area Managers
  • Business / Service Development Managers
  • Care Co-Ordinators
  • Chief Constables
  • Chief Executives and Assistant Chief Executives
  • Clinical Commissioning Group Members
  • Chairs of NHS Trust Board
  • Clinical Commissioning Groups
  • Directors / Heads of Nursing
  • Directors / Heads of Public Health
  • Directors / Heads of Adult Social Services
  • Directors / Heads of Children’s Social Services
  • Directors / Heads of Finance
  • General Practitioners and Practice Managers
  • Heads of Commissioning
  • Heads of Service
  • Heads of Strategy
  • Heads of Supported Employment
  • Health and Wellbeing Boards and Managers
  • Housing Associations
  • Medical Directors / Officers
  • Psychologists
  • Psychiatrists
  • Social Workers