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Pressure on NHS is mounting, survey finds

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By Jess Hacker

08 Oct 2021

As many as eight-in-10 (81%) NHS staff members are as concerned about increasing pressures on healthcare services as they were at the peak of the Covid-19 pandemic, a new survey has suggested.

A YouGov poll of over 1,000 NHS staff found that nearly all (96%) think these pressures will continue for years, with 83% agreeing that pressure is growing ‘significantly’ irrespective of the number of Covid-19 cases.

It revealed that three-quarters (75%) said one of their main concerns was the growing impact of winter pressures, namely respiratory illnesses such as flu.

This comes after NHS England instructed practices to co-administer the Covid booster and flu campaigns: a task the NHS Confederation warned should not be ‘underestimated’.

The survey, conducted jointly with NHS Charities Together, found that staff were also concerned about the worsening of conditions not treated during the pandemic (73%), and by the scale of the care backlog (73%), which now sits at around 5.6 million people.

However, nearly nine-in-10 (89%) agreed that the NHS has done ‘the best possible job tackling Covid-19’.

Staff need trauma support and CBT

About one-in-10 staff members surveyed felt they would benefit from intensive therapy for trauma support, a number rising over a third (36%) for psychological support and counselling services more generally.

Ellie Orton OBE, chief executive of NHS Charities Together, said the results highlight the ‘huge mental toll’ the pandemic continues to take on staff.

‘The impact is expected to last for many years to come, which is why we must continue to be there for staff in the long-term,’ she said.

Ms Orton added that donations from the public had meant 66% of staff benefitted from counselling, helplines and peer to peer support from their place of work.

‘But with pressures on services mounting, we need to significantly increase the mental health and wellbeing support available for staff, so they can navigate these new challenges and continue their vital, life-saving work,’ she added.

A recent report warned that failing to care for mental health staff – who experience more abuse and poorer working conditions than other NHS staff – would have a direct impact on patient care.

NICE guidance published toward the end of last month stated that mental health support should be included in manager training, with employees with mental health problems offered cognitive behavioural therapy and mindfulness or stress management.


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