More than two in five East Sussex NHS staff felt ill due to work-related stress during pandemic

More than two in five staff at East Sussex Healthcare felt ill due to work-related stress because of the pandemic.

Wednesday, 17th March 2021, 5:19 pm
Updated Wednesday, 17th March 2021, 5:26 pm

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 East Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust, 42% 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 – up from 39% a year earlier.

That figure has risen steadily since 2016, when 35% of respondents said this was the case.

It also reflected the picture across England as a whole, where 44% of NHS staff said they had been unwell due to work-related stress last year, compared to 40% the year before.

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

Findings also revealed that 45% of staff at East Sussex Healthcare said they had gone to work in the previous three months despite not feeling well enough to perform their duties, a drop from 53%.

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 38% of staff said they feel their organisation takes positive action on health and well-being, although that was up from 37% the year before.

Some 3,700 employees at East Sussex Healthcare NHS 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% of East Sussex Healthcare 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.

And the proportion of staff who are satisfied with their pay fell to 36% last year, from 40% in 2019.

The survey was carried out before the Government sparked a backlash by announcing a proposed 1% 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% to 33%.

“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.”