NFCC Chair Joins HRH and Emergency Services Leaders in unique mental health collaboration 

National Fire Chiefs Council Chair, Roy Wilsher, joined HRH the Duke of Cambridge and senior leaders from across the country’s emergency services yesterday, to discuss the issue of mental health. 

 The opening meeting of the Emergency Responder Senior Leader Board – the first of its kind - took place on Tuesday 8 September, involving leaders from the UK’s fire, police and ambulance services, plus mountain rescue.  

The Board will look at good practice and promote collaborative working across the nation’s emergency services to ensure that all emergency responders receive the vital mental health support they need. 

The Board was established by His Royal Highness in response to a recommendation arising from a research project commissioned by The Royal Foundation in 2018 into the mental health and wellbeing of emergency responders in the UK. Conducted by King’s College London and the Open University, the work identified a need for greater sharing of ‘better practice’ across the emergency services sector to best support the mental health of its workforces.

The Board meeting, which took place via video conference, was chaired by Professor Nicola Fear, King’s College London, who supervised The Royal Foundation’s research. 

Speaking at the Police College in Belfast to staff taking part in the Police Service of Northern Ireland’s Wellbeing Volunteer Training course today, The Duke said: “Yesterday, I convened a meeting of senior leaders including the heads of emergency services and their respective charities from across the UK. I was encouraged and heartened about their desire for tangible and lasting change – with new and better collaboration and training.”

Chair of the National Fire Chiefs Council Roy Wilsher, said: “I am very grateful to His Royal Highness for this vital collaboration and his leadership in bringing this together. The Board will facilitate essential conversations around mental health, provide an opportunity to share expertise and knowledge and drive improvement.  

 “I am really pleased to say that mental health is now discussed openly in fire and rescue and we have moved on a long way in the last five years, but we still have some way to go.  Although I have not experienced mental health issues myself, there is a range of issues that can affect colleagues with the very worse cases sometimes resulting in suicide.  I have personally known far too many take their own life.

“Clearly we need to be doing more and I believe this unique partnership will be the driving force to ensuring the UK’s first responders receive the best possible mental health support, when they need it most.”

Attendees of the Emergency Responder Senior Leader Board meeting included:  

  •          The Duke of Cambridge
  •          Professor Nicola Fear 
  •          Martin Hewitt, Chair, The National Police Chiefs Council
  •          Roy Wilsher, Chair, The National Fire Chiefs Council
  •          Daren Mochrie, Chair, The Association of Ambulance Chief Executives
  •          Gill Scott-Moore, CEO, Police Care UK
  •          Dr Jill Tolfrey, CEO, The Fire Fighters Charity
  •          Karl Demian, CEO, Ambulance Staff Charity
  •          Mike France, SEO, Mountain Rescue England and Wales
  •          Paul Farmer, CEO, Mind

In November 2019, The National Fire Chiefs Council (NFCC) signed up to Public Health England’s (PHE’s) Concordat for Better Mental Health, confirming its ongoing commitment to working with partners to promote good mental health.  

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