Almost half of Lancashire hospital staff 'felt unwell' from work stress in pandemic

More than two in five staff at Lancashire Teaching Hospitals Trust felt ill due to work-related stress as the coronavirus pandemic took hold last year, an NHS survey has revealed.

Thursday, 18th March 2021, 1:59 pm

And 18 per cent said they were even considering leaving the NHS to have a career change or move to a new job within healthcare, such as agency work.

The annual NHS staff survey has revealed the toll of the Covid-19 crisis on staff at trusts across England, who faced huge pressures as hospital admissions surged.

At Lancashire Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, 44 per cent of staff who responded to the 2020 survey said they had felt unwell in the past year as a result of work-related stress.

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44 per cent of Lancashire Teaching Hospital staff said they had 'felt unwell' due to work stress in the pandemic

Only around 34 per cent of the 4,100 employees who took the survey said they felt their organisation had taken positive action on health and well-being, although that was up from 30 per cent the year before.

Bernadette Miller, 59, has been a nurse for 40 years and spent 25 of them working as the Clinical Lead for Discharge Lounge at Royal Preston Hospital.

She told the Post there has been a "noticeable increase" in the mental wellbeing support being made available to staff as a result of the pandemic.

She said: “There’s no doubt that the last 12 months for stafAf members have been extremely difficult in both a personal and professional capacity.

The annual NHS staff survey has revealed the toll of the Covid-19 crisis on staff at the Lancashire trust

“In my opinion, frontline members of staff have gone above and beyond what is expected of them and have certainly stepped up to the challenge – and it does have an impact.

“From my own perspective, the Trust has been supportive by regularly communicating with staff and providing help to those who need it. There has definitely been a noticeable increase in support available.

“But it’s not just the organisation who has helped those suffering from stress or who may feel unwell. I’ve got to say that staff members have really looked out for each other and are always there to help their colleagues.

“For example, my team didn’t have their own quiet space to just stop and take a minute if they needed it. So we created our own ‘wobble book’ which was there for members of our team to write down how they were feeling and we created a positive comments jar to help spread some positivity.”

Bernadette Miller has worked at Royal Preston Hospital for 25 years and throughout the pandemic

Karen Swindley, Strategy, Workforce and Education Director at Lancashire Teaching Hospitals, said: “Our staff members have gone above and beyond during the Covid-19 pandemic to respond to the needs of our communities and we are very proud of the extraordinary efforts they have gone to, to provide the best care possible to our patients.

"The health and wellbeing of staff is vital and while we will always work to do more to improve the working lives of our staff, we are pleased that we have seen an overall improvement in six of the ten key themes of the survey with six themes also sitting above the national average.

“We have supported staff throughout the pandemic with a variety of measures which ensures their health and wellbeing remains a top priority for the organisation including significantly expanding our psychological support service and continuing to provide access to a range of health and wellbeing resources, sessions and courses.

“We have also made a significant investment in the improvement of staff facilities, including rest and relaxation areas.”

Figures also revealed that 47 per cent of staff at Lancashire Teaching Hospitals Trust said they had gone to work in the previous three months despite not feeling well enough to perform their duties.

Helen Buckingham, director of strategy at the Nuffield Trust health think tank, said the survey reveals "the astonishing resilience of the NHS".

Prerana Issar, chief people officer for the NHS, said there needs to be a sustained focus on healthcare workers’ physical and mental health.

She said: "Given the high level of work-related stress for staff caused by the pandemic, we need to maintain our focus on health and wellbeing and give them the support they need during recovery to help us to maintain care for patients,."

The survey was carried out before the Government sparked a backlash by announcing a proposed 1% pay rise for NHS staff.

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