Critical care staff working at hospitals in Romford and Goodmayes will now have access to 'kind heart' peers to help them deal with traumatic incidents.

‘Kind hearts’ is a peer-support programme announced by Barking, Havering and Redbridge University Hospitals NHS Trust, which runs Queen's and King George Hospitals. 

The scheme aims to help staff in the critical care unit through difficult times such as the loss of a young patient, or a sudden and unexpected patient death.

The trust will provide a two-day training course in occupational psychology to consultants, health care assistants and nurses in the unit who can then become a network of support for their co-workers during stressful times.

Ruth Dando, lead nurse in the critical care unit, spearheaded the initiative after seeing the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on the mental health of her team members.

Ms Dando said: “Staff in critical care can experience higher rates of trauma, especially during stressful times, and it can be cumulative. The impact of Covid has been considerable.

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“Kind hearts will provide support in the moment – they are someone to talk to in confidence and will help colleagues to resolve issues by providing empathy and understanding.

"The peer element, that they are critical care staff who know what it’s like, is key. They will also help us to learn from incidents.”

Critical care consultant, Mandeep Phull, who underwent the training, said: “I’ve been through awful experiences and have gone to colleagues to talk it through. I know if I’ve been through it, others are having similar experiences.

“The best thing about debriefing straight after a traumatic event is it can help stop you taking it home and carrying it with you.”

The announcement of the scheme comes after the NHS Staff Survey 2022 found that staff morale at BHRUT was the lowest it had been since 2018.

The survey found 36.7pc of respondees agreed they 'often think about leaving' BHRUT.

The trust's chief executive Matthew Trainer said earlier this month: “Our focus now is acting on what our staff are telling us, such as improving morale and a sense of pride in coming to work; staff wellbeing; and career development."