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Mental health staff ‘overworked, understaffed and demoralised’

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Rising demand for services, combined with a staff shortage, has left mental healthcare at ‘breaking point’, a British Medical Association (BMA) survey of mental health staff has found.

The survey of over 1000 mental healthcare professionals found that over half of respondents said they were too busy to provide the care they would like to be able to give, with 44% saying that they felt demoralised and the same number saying their workload was unmanageable.

‘Shifts are consistently one or more staff members down leaving the rest upset that they can’t provide the care patients deserve and worried that lives could be put at risk if this continues,’ said Royal College of Nursing professional lead for mental health Catherine Gamble.

‘With so many too busy to deliver care, nurses aren’t able to spend time with families, develop therapeutic relationships and implement psychosocial interventions. Unless there is urgent investment in growing the nursing workforce, the pressures will continue to grow to the point where it will no longer be possible to attract nurses to work in the NHS, and parity of esteem for physical and mental health remains a goal yet to be realised.’

Respondents also raised concerns over the level of staffing on mental health wards with 47% saying there was a shortage of one or more medical staff, while half were concerned about the skill mix.

‘This study highlights the very serious problems facing the mental health sector with a workforce near to breaking point. There are desperate shortages of care staff of all types across mental health, with doctors and nurses on the frontline overworked and demoralised – and patient care is suffering as a result,’ said BMA mental health policy lead, Dr Andrew Molodynski.

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