Thousands of staff could leave the NHS as a result of the challenges of the pandemic, unless they are given a chance to recover, the NHS Confederation has claimed.
According to the organisation, while the NHS is starting to see an increase in applications to degree level courses, this is set against the backdrop of levels of stress and burnout due to the last 12 months, which threatens to increase NHS vacancies.
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‘The people who work in the NHS are at its heart, and we must acknowledge that they have experienced a year like no other. We know that many staff will have been traumatised by what they have seen and experienced in recent months,’ said Danny Mortimer, chief executive of the NHS Confederation.
‘There will be a temptation – not least amongst the teams themselves - to dive straight into tackling the waiting list for care that has ballooned to 4.6 million. But NHS leaders are clear that the NHS cannot bounce back without first giving NHS staff the time, space and support they need to properly recover. If we don’t look after them, then we cannot hope to look after patients.’
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The NHS has close to 90,000 vacant posts, and results from the biggest survey of NHS staff, published earlier this month, show that almost two thirds of NHS staff believe there are not enough people in their organisations to enable them to do their job properly. More than four in ten say they feel unwell as result of their job, a figure that rises to half of all staff working in frontline COVID care.
‘If we are going to get the NHS back on track, then we have to put the wellbeing of staff at the centre of our recovery plans and give them everything they need to get themselves back on track. This must be underpinned by urgent investment to address long-standing vacancies in nursing and other key professions - this is at the root of the long-term workload pressures facing the NHS and its people,’ added Mr Mortimer.