Rise in NHS staff in England feeling unwell as a result of work-related stress

Aine Fox and Joe Gammie, PA
·2-min read

The proportion of NHS staff in England who reported feeling unwell as a result of work-related stress in 2020 has risen on the previous year, according to a wide-ranging survey.

Increases were steepest in acute and community trusts and acute specialist trusts, the annual survey found.

The past year has seen NHS staff face huge pressures in dealing with the Covid-19 pandemic.

More than four-in-10 (44%) staff reported feeling unwell as a result of work-related stress in the previous 12 months, up from 40% the previous year.

Some 595,270 NHS employees in England responded to the NHS Staff Survey 2020, which was carried out between September and December last year.

Findings also revealed that 46% of staff said they had gone to work in the previous three months, despite not feeling well enough to perform their duties, a drop from 57% in 2019.

During the pandemic people across the country have been told not to attend work if they have coronavirus symptoms.

Almost a fifth of staff are considering leaving the NHS – although this has fallen slightly since 2019, from 19.6% to 18.2%.

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.

Danny Mortimer, chief executive of the NHS Confederation, said the general findings were encouraging but there were “significant areas of concern”.

He said: “The overall picture is encouraging given the unprecedented and most challenging of times NHS staff have worked through over the past 12 months.

“There are, though, significant areas of concern and the recent data on the continued poorer experience of ethnic minority staff starkly reminds NHS leaders that staff experience varies unacceptably in their organisations.”

Recent data suggests a poorer experience of ethnic minority NHS staff
Recent data suggests a poorer experience of ethnic minority NHS staff (Hannah McKay/PA)

He said with nearly one in five people thinking of leaving the health service, there can be “no room for complacency”, as he cited the Government’s “intention to offer only a 1% pay rise” to NHS workers – a move which has prompted strong criticism.

The survey, which has been conducted every year since 2003, was sent out to more than 1.2 million NHS staff in England between September and December last year.

Some 280 NHS organisations took part, including all 220 trusts in England, but it does not cover primary care staff.