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Mental health problems have quadrupled in NHS staff due to Covid-19
After months of COVID strain, NHS burnout has become a widespread reality. Mental health problems have also quadrupled in NHS staff during the first wave of Covid-19, according to the largest survey carried out into the psychological effect of the pandemic on UK health workers.
The research, published in the British Journal of Psychiatry Open found that 21% of respondents reported high levels of depression compared with 5% before the pandemic. Severe levels of anxiety rose 8% to 36%, while severe stress increased from 11% to 46%.
The link between nurse staffing levels on patient outcomes and staff burnout was also highlighted in a speech made at the Nursing Times Workforce Summit and Awards.
According to large-scale observational studies, hospitals with more nurses have lower levels of staff burnout and improved outcomes, including patient satisfaction.
By comparison, interactions between staff and patients are nearly three times more likely to be characterised as negative when each nurse cares for eight or more patients. This includes interactions that were rushed, task-orientated and, in some cases, inconsiderate, disrespectful or rude.
These interactions were also found to be triggers for escalating patient’s behaviour.
We should not be surprised that where staff cannot provide the level of care they want to, this will have an impact on those they care for and in turn the behaviours they present. This adds to staff stress and a vicious cycle can result.
Training will not fix fundamental problems such as staff shortages and environmental triggers, but done well it builds staff skills and confidence in their ability to reduce conflict and influence positive outcomes.
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