More than two in five Bedfordshire Hospitals Trust staff unwell due to stress amid Covid-19 pandemic

Survey also revealed 19 per cent of staff are considering leaving the NHS

Thursday, 25th March 2021, 11:43 am

More than two in five staff at Bedfordshire Hospitals Trust felt ill due to work-related stress as the coronavirus pandemic took hold last year, according to a survey.

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 Bedfordshire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, 44 per cent of staff who responded to the 2020 survey said they had felt unwell in the past 12 months as a result of work-related stress.

Bedford Hospital

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

And Bedfordshire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust says it has introduced a number of initiatives to support staff's wellbeing.

Findings also revealed that 48 per cent of staff at Bedfordshire Hospitals Trust said they had gone to work in the previous three months despite not feeling well enough to perform their duties.

People have been urged to stay at home and isolate if they fall ill during the pandemic in case they have the coronavirus.

Only around 28 per cent of staff said they feel their organisation takes positive action on health and well-being.

Some 2,600 employees at Bedfordshire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust gave feedback for the NHS Staff Survey 2020, which was carried out between September and December last year.

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

"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," she said.

The survey also reveals 19 per cent of Bedfordshire Hospitals Trust staff are considering leaving the NHS – that includes people considering retiring or taking a career break and those considering moving to a job outside healthcare, or in healthcare but outside the NHS.

Meanwhile, around 34 per cent of Bedfordshire Hospitals Trust staff said they were satisfied with their pay last year.

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

Ms Buckingham said Covid-19 has hit certain parts of the NHS workforce more than others.

She added: "Below the headlines there are troubling signs for vital groups, even in a survey conducted between waves of the pandemic.

"Worryingly, as a row over pay intensifies, nurses have seen the sharpest fall in satisfaction with their salaries, dropping from 36 per cent to 33 per cent.

"These aren't encouraging results for the drive to grow nursing numbers by 50,000 which is both a Government promise and a frontline necessity."

Care minister Helen Whately said while elements of the annual staff survey responses are "encouraging", there is more work to be done.

She said: "We will help staff recover from this pandemic, with investments in mental health support and professional development, along with our commitment to recruiting more doctors, nurses and health support workers so our NHS has the staff it needs."

Bedfordshire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust spokesperson said, “We know our staff are working under immense pressure in these challenging times. However, the care and commitment in providing excellent patient care is still seen every day which is nothing short of remarkable.

"Although staff health and well-being is always a priority for the Trust, there’s even more focus here bearing in mind the challenging operational pressures experienced over the past year due to the global pandemic. To further support our staff’s health and wellbeing at work and at home, over the past 12 months we have introduced a number of initiatives. These include the employment of clinical psychologists specifically for staff, dedicated wellbeing areas for staff to take moments of respite before, during or after a long shift and virtual mindfulness and well-being sessions.”