Hospital staffing issues as 'pressure remains high'

Picture: PA/Dominic Lipinski

Picture: PA/Dominic Lipinski - Credit: PA Wire/Press Association Images

Nurses keep leaving West London hospitals due to increased mental health problems after the Covid pandemic. 

A report presented by NHS bosses to West London councils today (Wednesday, March 9) showed the number of empty job posts across hospitals in the region increased to 12.1 per cent in December. 

It means there were the equivalent of 6,337 full-time vacancies at the end of the year, with most coming in nursing and midwifery. 

According to the report, much of this was put down to staff choosing to relocate or make a career change following the outbreak of Covid-19. 

However, it also noted an increasing number of nurses were facing “psychological trauma”, particularly due to working with Covid patients. 

Charlotte Bailey, from the central and north west London NHS foundation trust, said the local NHS continues to promote its ‘keeping well’ service, which gives healthcare workers access to psychological support. 

She said the number of people using this and benefiting from it continues to go up, while the individual trusts in the area have their own programmes in place. 

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The report mentions that bullying and harassment continues to be flagged through staff feedback, something Ms Bailey acknowledged needs to be addressed. 

She said: “Flipping the language to civility and respect is something that we’re working through across North West London. 

“Thinking about our policies in a different way and promoting an ethos through leadership and team development.”

She said there has been a concerted effort to “drill down” into the data around workplace bullying and the local NHS has set up ‘values and behaviour’ workshops, with around 400 people involved in their development. 

According to the report, staff feedback pointed out “morale is low, while work pressures remain high” and many “found it difficult to engage with wellbeing offers when the demand is high”. 

As well as facing staff shortages and reports of mental health issues, sickness levels also increased. 

At the end of December, 5.8 per cent of staff were off ill, which was an increase from June’s figures. 

It meant 1,900 staff were off due to Covid-19, at a time when the Omicron variant was rife, and 1,529 were absent for other reasons. 

However, Ms Bailey suggested that, since the data was published, things have been rounding off to a more manageable level.