COVID-19: NHS staff just as worried about pressures now as during peak of pandemic

·2-min read

The vast majority of NHS staff say they are as concerned about pressures on the service now as they were at the peak of the pandemic, according to a survey by a charity which supports health workers.

Most workers think it will take years for the NHS to recover from the current crisis.

More than 80% of 1,000 staff surveyed by NHS Charities Together - a national independent charity caring for the NHS - said problems are still growing significantly, and 96% believe they will continue for years, despite declining COVID-19 cases.

Hospitals face an influx of winter patients with respiratory illnesses as well as a backlog of patients who were forced to delay non-COVID care.

The strain on medical workers is taking a toll on their mental health.

Two-thirds of staff have experienced psychological problems, including anxiety and depression, since the start of 2020.

Dr Shaun Thein worked in respiratory medicine at Birmingham City Hospital during the first wave of the pandemic.

"Emotionally, it's very difficult," he says. "The number of patients, how sick they were, the fact that they're all fighting for breath and they're all just there in front of you.

"It's really difficult being there in person.

"It's the same everywhere, a lot of my colleagues have struggled to process this and go through it."

Many NHS staff are only able to access therapy and other support because of donations to charities.

"It's really vitally important that we continue to be there for our staff in the long-term," says Ellie Orton, chief executive of NHS Charities Together, which encompasses 240 member charities.

"This research shows the vast majority of staff are incredibly proud to work for the NHS and believe our health service did the best possible job tackling COVID-19, but it also shows the huge mental toll the pandemic took and continues to take."

Doctors and nurses have been hailed as heroes for the stress and sadness they have endured.

But as the rest of society tries to get back to normal, the NHS and its staff are still overwhelmed.

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