COVID pressures left NHS staff so stressed they became ill – with nurses the worst hit.
Almost half of all nurses, who bore the brunt of caring for patients in overwhelmed hospitals, said the burden had left its mark.
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NHS staff reported feeling so stressed in the last year it made them unwellCredit: London News Pictures
The NHS Staff Survey revealed the pandemic made huge swathes of workers unwell.
It comes as 49 per cent of nurses said they suffered with work-related illness in the last year.
Staff manning acute and community trusts and acute specialist trusts saw a worse effect of stress.
More than four-in-ten NHS workers in England reported feeling ill due to work strains last year – a rise from 40 per cent in 2019 to 44 per cent.
Nuffield Trust Director of Strategy Helen Buckingham said: “Today’s staff survey shows the astonishing resilience of the NHS, and reminds us that Covid-19 has hit certain parts of the workforce far more than others.
“But below the headlines there are troubling signs for vital groups, even in a survey conducted between waves of the pandemic.
“Nurses are the backbone of the NHS and have long faced chronic shortages. So it is concerning that nearly half (49 per cent) say they faced work-related illness.”
Danny Mortimer, chief executive of the NHS Confederation said: “After an exceptional and extreme year, we must all be mindful of the need to allow NHS staff the time and space they need to decompress, particularly as experts continue to warn that we could face another COVID-19 wave again in the coming months.”
Some 595,270 NHS employees in England responded to the survey, carried out between September and December last year.
Minister for Care Helen Whately said: “The past year has undoubtedly demanded more from the NHS workforce than any other point in the health service’s history, and this year’s staff survey is a vital tool for hearing staff views.
“Areas do remain where we need to do more.
“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.”
Almost a fifth of staff are considering leaving the NHS – although this has fallen slightly since 2019, from 19.6 per cent to 18.2 per cent.
It 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.
The proportion of NHS staff in England satisfied with their pay dropped slightly in 2020, the NHS Staff Survey 2020 found.
It showed that 36.7 per cent reported being either “satisfied” or “very satisfied” with their pay, compared to 38 per cent the previous year.
It comes as ministers and unions row over the planned one per cent rise offered by the Government.