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.