On Tuesday 18th December, Sir David Amess MP called on the Government to provide better mental health support for firefighters and other emergency response workers. As Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group Fire Safety and Rescue Group, the MP used a Westminster Hall debate to need to better address the mental health effects of the stressful and traumatic job that firefighters undertake.
Sir David said ‘At the moment, individual fire service authorities are responsible for ensuring that they have appropriate health and wellbeing support for their staff. The Fire Brigades Union has advocated for all fire authorities to have specific mental health policies.
I am also advised that support is available to firefighters from various charities and professional bodies, including the Fire Fighters Charity and Mind. My hon. Friend the Member for Ayr, Carrick and Cumnock touched on the fact that research from Mind has found that 85% of people in the fire and rescue services have experienced stress and poor mental health at work. That is a truly shocking figure, which is totally unacceptable.
Her Majesty’s inspectorate of constabulary and fire & rescue services has committed to assessing how the fire authorities meet the wellbeing needs of their staff as part of the inspection question set for the year 2018-19. As my hon. Friend also touched on, NHS England announced on 9 October that up to £50 million would be made available over five years to provide ongoing physical and mental health services for those affected by the Grenfell fire, including long-term screening.
The best Christmas present they could have would be for my hon. Friend the Minister, as a result of this debate, to pledge that our Government will do whatever they can to ensure that our firefighters receive the best possible help for their mental health needs. They do a wonderful job on our behalf and risk everything. We have to bear in mind that they have their own lives and their own families to go back to, who know the scars that they bear.’