Shocking figures reveal the toll of Covid on Wigan NHS staff

Nearly half of Wigan’s hospital staff felt ill due to work-related stress as the coronavirus pandemic took hold last year, according to a survey.

Monday, 22nd March 2021, 11:08 am

The annual NHS staff poll has revealed the toll of the Covid-19 crisis on staff at trusts across England, who faced huge pressures as hospital admissions surged.

At Wrightington, Wigan and Leigh NHS Foundation Trust (WWL), 49 per cent 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 38 per cent a year earlier.

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The annual NHS staff poll has revealed the toll of the Covid-19 crisis on staff at trusts across England

Director of workforce Alison Balson said: “We are incredibly proud of every member of the WWL family who have faced the unprecedented challenge of the last year with dedication, commitment and bravery, giving their all throughout the pandemic and always going about their duties with care and compassion for our patients.

“There has been very little respite in the last 12 months from the pressure locally, with the Wigan Borough feeling a disproportionate impact from Covid-19.

“This has undoubtedly and understandably led to stress and anxiety for many of our staff.

“It is vital we provide the best possible support to staff and we have put in place significant well-being services across the Trust under our Steps 4 Wellness psychological support programme. This includes SOS rooms where colleagues are supported by staff fully trained in mental health first aid.

“We have also made in-reach support available from well-being practitioners in areas of the Trust under significant pressure, alongside counselling, triage and onward referral by clinical psychologists and psychotherapists.

“Our regular Schwartz Rounds allow staff to have conversations about the emotional impact of their work.

“These services have been accessed by hundreds of colleagues and continue to provide vital support for them when they need it.

“We remain committed to looking after our staff who have supported so many patients and families during the pandemic.”

It reflected the picture across England as a whole, where 44 per cent of NHS staff said they had been unwell due to work-related stress last year, compared to 40 per cent 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 48 per cent of staff at Wigan said they had gone to work in the previous three months despite not feeling well enough to perform their duties, a drop from 58 per cent.

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 33 per cent of staff said they feel their organisation takes positive action on health and well-being, although that was up from 32 per cent the year before.

Some 1,800 employees at Wrightington, Wigan and Leigh NHS Foundation 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 21 per cent of Wigan staff are considering leaving the NHS and the proportion of staff who are satisfied with their pay remained in line with 2019 levels last year, at 42 per cent.

The survey was carried out before the Government sparked a backlash by announcing a proposed one per cent 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 per cent to 33 per cent.

“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.”

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