Nearly half of NHS staff unwell with work-related stress

Forty-four per cent of respondents to the 2020 NHS staff survey reported feeling unwell as a result of work-related stress in the last 12 months.

This is a four per cent increase since 2019 and an eight per cent increase since 2016. The survey found that increases were sharpest in Acute/Acute & Community Trusts and Acute Specialist Trusts.

In the survey, 13% of staff also reported experiencing discrimination at work, with 48% citing ethnic background as the reason for the discrimination.

More than 83% of staff said they felt their organisation acts fairly with regard to career progression or promotion, regardless of ethnic background, gender, religion, sexual orientation, disability or age. Nationally, this has declined since 2019 (83%) and is around 2% lower than in 2016 (85%).

Responding to the staff survey, Danny Mortimer, chief executive of the NHS Confederation said: ‘The overall picture is encouraging given the unprecedented and most challenging of times NHS staff have worked through over the past twelve months.

‘There are though significant areas of concern and the recent data on the continued poorer experience of ethnic minority staff starkly reminds NHS leaders that staff experience varies unacceptably in their organisations.

‘With the government once again reiterating its intention to offer only a 1% pay rise there can be no room for complacency when the results also show that around a third of staff are considering leaving their jobs and nearly one in five are thinking of quitting the health service entirely.

‘While there has been an increase in the number of staff agreeing that their organisation has enough staff for them to do their job properly, this is still less than two in five and reinforces the need for a funded workforce plan to give staff hope that the vacancies in their teams will be filled longer term.

‘After an exceptional and extreme year, we must all be mindful of the need to allow NHS staff the time and space they need to decompress, particularly as experts continue to warn that we could face another Covid-19 wave again in the coming months.

‘We need an honest conversation which acknowledges that the full resumption of health service activity in the short term must be carefully paced to protect the health of our people.’

Last month the NHS Confederation wrote to the Prime Minister to call for a steady approach to recovering patient services, which protects health and care staff from burning out after the extreme and sustained pressures of the pandemic.

Rebecca Smith, managing director of NHS Employers, which is part of the NHS Confederation, said: ‘It is testament to the efforts of NHS leaders to support their workforce, against the backdrop of a global crisis, that over 90% of staff feel their organisation had taken positive action on staff health and well-being.

‘This, coupled with figures which show an increase to two-thirds of staff saying they would recommend their NHS organisation as a place to work, are very encouraging.

‘While there are stubborn areas of concern, many of the results remain stable or show improvement which is very positive.

‘The findings on equality, diversity and inclusion mirror those we have seen elsewhere over the past year.  Disturbingly they again show that a third of BME staff feel their organisation does not provide equal opportunity for career progression compared to around a tenth of white staff.

‘We must continue to work to create a fairer healthcare system that recognises and supports all its staff and we will be working with employers on the practical actions to take to address this.

‘Elsewhere the results on bullying and violence against staff are very disappointing.  No staff member should face bullying, harassment and threats of violence at work, and this is something for which there can be zero tolerance.’

Photo Credit – Pixabay


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