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The frontline and beyond — wellbeing support for the NHS team

(the story of Project5, as it happens)

As the COVID-19 crisis emerges, worldwide, healthcare teams are witnessed in their unparalleled ability to maintain a compassionate and humanitarian ethos at the most stressful period in medical history. What’s clear is that this is not business as usual and may require a very human cost, the brunt of which will be taken by our NHS team.

The NHS has long been under pressure to deliver to an increasingly complex and long-term health need, in the context of austerity measures and cycles of change. Through no lack of skill or will, the NHS mental health teams have been struggling to meet the community's mental health needs, and this is predicted to increase beyond service capability. The impact has been a high-stress environment and repeated evidence of staff burnout, recruitment difficulties, and staff shortages. This is not the best place for a health service to be in to respond to a pandemic.

Mental Health teams are being redeployed and there is a genuine need to be concerned for the ‘wellbeing impact’ this situation will have on NHS teams now, during and after this crisis, no matter how long it lasts. A sustainable wellbeing solution is required. When we launched our not for profit project ( in March, we did so to proactively meet the changing wellbeing needs of NHS staff. We had 2 objectives; the first was to offer a service that worked alongside the sterling work of the existing NHS wellbeing plan so that our model simply added extra capacity into the system and the second was to create a sustainable model so we could continue to support the NHS beyond this current crisis.

It was our observation that creating a large scale, centralised, evidence-based and reflective service to meet this need would be a welcomed initiative by the NHS.

Our team of Psychologists designed what would be our ‘dream’ evidence-based multi-tier approach, with a service-evaluation and development arm. In short, a complete service. We then designed the optimal booking system, that would be effortless for both the practitioners and the NHS staff to interact with. A system that would be as simple as clicking the time you want help and then getting that help at that time. After years in the NHS, this truly felt like a game-changer. We then looked at the none-NHS sector wellbeing professionals and considered who could populate this service to support it.

Then we built it and we targeted these sectors to ask for volunteers to deliver the model. The result, something amazing:

Project5 launched at the end of April 2020 with all of this in place:

  • 4,500 volunteers from the coaching, Psychology, Psychiatry, Nursing and Counselling (+ more) sectors… now being verified before being added to the system.

  • a bespoke digital booking system for NHS staff