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Building an in-house crisis response team in the National Health Service

The Company

Wrightington, Wigan and Leigh NHS Foundation Trust, an NHS Acute Hospital Trust

The Challenge

As an NHS Acute Hospital Trust, we had a specific need to support the wellbeing of our staff after traumatic events. We found that staff were having to deal with these events and there was no formal immediate support in place, other than general colleague/management social support. We were seeing a trend in staff sickness and wellbeing, where some events had proved too much for some staff members to cope with. We did not have the appropriate immediate aftercare in place to support staff after critical events, and we felt not only did we have a duty of care to provide that support, but it might actually have a beneficial impact on staff wellbeing, sickness and performance.

The Solution

KRTS worked with us to train 17 members of staff to become our pool of CISM “debriefers”, teaching them in the knowledge and skills required to deliver defusing and debriefs to groups of staff, shortly after potentially traumatic events.

The Result

The benefits of this was realised very quickly, when we experienced a significant high profile event the following week, that some of our staff members had been directly affected by. We were quickly able to utilise the skills of our trained debriefers in order to provide support to the affected staff.

Our board of directors very quickly bought into the benefits of the CISM service and were extremely pleased that we had been able to respond to this and other subsequent events in such a timely and positive way. They hadn’t been aware of CISM previously, but once they were informed it was extremely well received. Feedback from managers has been very positive, commenting that they can see the difference the service has made to their staff who have been provided with debriefs. Our early monitoring of staff sickness suggests that we have been able to keep staff in work following critical events, having provided them with the debrief.

I would highly recommend any industry where staff are subject to potentially traumatic events, to invest in a CISM service. The organisational benefits are extensive, but not only that, it fulfils our moral obligation to become more supportive employers. Debriefers will learn highly useful skills and will gain their own personal satisfaction from providing a positive service to their colleagues. We are extremely proud to be an organisation that offers a CISM service to its staff, and KRTS are the subject matter experts who have provided us a great deal of their experience and advice in helping it to get off the ground.


Nicole Ferguson, Head of Staff Engagement, Wrightington, Wigan and Leigh NHS Foundation Trust