"Inability to deliver care with dignity, kindness and compassion is perhaps the biggest threat facing the NHS", the Chief Executive of Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust, Sam Allen, warned today.

The mental health trust was awarded an outstanding rating for care by regulators the Care Quality Commission this week, with an overall rating of 'good' that was up from 'requires improvement' last year.

Allen chose the moment to warn that the mental health of both staff and patients risks being compromised by the full bed occupancy and £2 billion budget deficit currently undermining the health service. 

"Everyone working in the NHS wants to do their best but with the pressures on services they may spend so much time giving to others they could forget to care for themselves," said Allen.

"If we can’t care for those providing healthcare how can we support them to provide care to others?"

"Now, more than ever, we need to pay attention to the health and wellbeing of the staff who we expect to be there 24/7 to look after our own."

"It breaks my heart to think about the difficult choices those working in the NHS are making each and every day and the impact this can have on them and those we are here to serve."

"Our NHS staff are very resilient and resourceful but the relentless nature of the pressure we are facing can lead to compassion fatigue."

Confounding challenges

Allen also wrote of her eagerness to continue the Trust's upwards trajectory and deliver an outstanding service that would confound budgetary circumstances if achieved.

"We are heading in the right direction and I am very proud to work alongside colleagues committed to the NHS and the work the Trust does providing support to people with mental health problems and learning disabilities."

"Healthcare needs to start with self-care. If we look after ourselves and each other then we will be in a better place to deliver care with kindness and compassion and, in turn, have an NHS that better uses the resources it has made available to it."