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NHS staff as worried about current pressures as peak of Covid-19 pandemic, survey finds

Eight in 10 NHS staff say the pressures currently facing the NHS are as worrying as during the peak of the Covid-19 pandemic, a survey has found.

The poll of 1,008 NHS staff, conducted by independent charity NHS Charities Together and data company YouGov, also found 96% believe these high pressures will continue for years despite declining Covid-19 cases, while 83% feel pressure is still growing ‘significantly’ on services.

Most respondents (573) worked in hospital, but 120 worked in general practice and 90 in the community. Nurses and midwives were the second largest staff group surveyed (257 participants), overtaken only by the ‘wider healthcare team’ such as admin and clerical staff (268).

Ellie Orton, NHS Charities Together chief executive, said more mental health and wellbeing support must be available for NHS staff to tackle ‘the huge mental toll’ of the Covid-19 pandemic.

‘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 explained.

The main concerns reported by staff included clinics being overwhelmed due to a backlog of patients and large waiting lists (73%), a rise in ill health due to some conditions not being treated during the pandemic (73%), and the growing impact of winter pressures such as respiratory illnesses (75%).

Many NHS staff surveyed wanted more practical and emotional support, with 36% saying they would benefit from psychological support and counselling services, 11% singling out intensive therapy for trauma support and 47% asking for practical support (such as access to food, drink and rest areas).

Ms Morton continued: ‘Thanks to generous donations from the public we have been able to provide immediate help in every corner of the UK, including counselling, helplines and peer to peer support.

‘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.’

NHS Charities Together has funded projects for NHS staff including counselling services, helplines, and intensive psychological support for post-traumatic stress disorder.