In his presentation, ‘Benchmarking NHS counselling for staff’, Barry McInnes, head of counselling, Royal College of Nursing (RCN), said the NHS offers a patchwork provision of counselling services.
He was reporting the findings of a survey carried out in 2003, to determine the overall availability of counselling services within NHS trusts, and whether those providing the services were aware of the RCN’s guidelines on counselling services for staff in health service settings, which were produced in 2002.
The survey went out to all NHS trust HR directors in the UK and Northern Ireland. From the 550 sent out, there were 142 responses, representing a response rate of 26 per cent.
The survey revealed that all but one trust provided counselling services to staff and 68 per cent of trusts were aware of the RCN guidance.
The national uptake of counselling services was 4.4 per cent, ranging from 0.3 per cent at one trust to an extraordinary 28 per cent of staff at one hospital.
According to the RCN guidance, staff counsellor ratios should be one in 2,000, but 63 per cent fell far short of this figure.
In cases of referral for traumas, addiction and eating disorders, the picture was much bleaker, with only 56 per cent of services reporting any access to specialist counselling and for those that did, the average waiting times ranged from two to 52 weeks.
McInnes said that all survey data is available on the RCN website, which will hopefully encourage those in OH to look at their own counselling service provision.