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Caring for healthcare practitioners

  • Richard Williams (a1) and Verity Kemp (a2)


Caring for people in distress or illness is emotionally draining and physically demanding. This article focuses on the experiences and needs of health service staff as professional carers. It overviews the current circumstances in the UK and links readers to the findings of: the Stevenson/Farmer Review of 2017; the report of the General Medical Council on the state of medical education and practice of 2018; and the British Medical Association survey of doctors and medical students published in 2019. We review the sources of stress that affects healthcare practitioners and introduce the concepts of emotional labour, psychological safety and psychosocial resilience. We draw attention to the vital importance of social support and leadership to protecting healthcare staff. We conclude this review of the topic by outlining a stepped model for actions that aim to: develop staff of healthcare services and help them to thrive at work; support staff who are struggling at work; and intervene to care for staff who are distressed or unwell whether they are continuing to work or not.


After reading this article you will be able to:

  • recognise the impact that healthcare staff's work has on them and their patients, and how stress may originate
  • describe contemporary conceptual approaches to understanding the psychosocial experiences of healthcare staff and the components of good psychosocial care to mitigate their needs
  • understand how lessons from research and experience might be used to improve employers' evidence-informed capabilities for caring for their staff.


Corresponding author

Correspondence: Richard Williams, Welsh Institute for Health and Social Care, University of South Wales, Pontypridd CF37 1DL, Wales. Email:


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Caring for healthcare practitioners

  • Richard Williams (a1) and Verity Kemp (a2)


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Caring for healthcare practitioners

  • Richard Williams (a1) and Verity Kemp (a2)
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