FOR years, the NHS has faced issues that have threatened the retention of its staff. But with the long-lasting impacts of COVID-19 affecting the workforce in previously unimaginable ways, the NHS is now faced with the reality that a high proportion of its skilled workforce are questioning their position.
The impact of an NHS worker exodus would not only decimate the healthcare system as we know it, but it would significantly burden the government financially. The report by MSI and HWF, authored by a group of clinicians, managers and academics, uncovers that not acting soon could cost more than £21.7 billion.
When a valued member of the NHS leaves the service, so too does the costs of training that professional. The report unveils the below figures:
- Training costs of clinical support staff is approximately £75,000
- Training a staff nurse to be independently competent costs approximately £85,000
- The cost of a new doctor (up to pre-registration standard) is up to £245,000
- The cost to train a clinician to consultant level is more than double this, around £510,000
- The NHS loses an average of 50,000 staff per year, and the Institute for Public Policy Research estimates that this could reach 300,000 post-pandemic
- If we were to lose 300,000 workers after the pandemic, assuming in line with current staff distributions that 10% are doctors, 30% nurses and 30% clinical support staff, would result in losing 30,000 doctors, 90,000 nurses and 90,000 clinical support staff
The welfare of NHS workers has always been a concern, and one only exacerbated by the pandemic. This concern is evidenced in last week’s 2020 NHS Staff Survey results, which highlighted the mental health and low morale realities of frontline staff (with more than 44% reporting feeling unwell due to stress, 26.5% often thinking of leaving, 19.7% are looking for a new job and 14% are leaving their job once they find a new one).
Compound these figures with the review of a 1% pay rise which continues to cause national backlash, the likelihood of an exodus should be treated as a crisis.
Dr Jeeves Wijesuriya, a spokesperson for HWF, said:
“The MSI report provides a clear and compelling argument for urgently prioritising the welfare and wellbeing of NHS staff: highlighting the short and long term implications for the health and economy of the nation if action is not taken.”
“This really is a crucial opportunity for the government to do what is needed to ensure the future of our NHS.”
Reports suggesting that nearly half of critical staff are dealing with severe PTSD, depression, or anxiety also warrant the need for urgent action to be taken to preserve the physical and mental wellbeing of NHS staff. If not, the knock-on effect could be enormous, with taxpayers having to front the bill.
The NHS needs to be moving in a positive direction to cope with the backlog of treatment that COVID-19 has presented, but its current trajectory is increasingly concerning and requires drastic governmental intervention.
Following a survey of NHS workers analysed by MSI, the report features policy recommendations that, if implemented, will allow NHS workers to obtain access to effective and simple workplace benefits (benefits which would be considered a ‘minimum standard’ for a high proportion of businesses across the nation).
The nation needs to see the positive effects of being part of the NHS; future generations of doctors and nurses should be inspired to join in light of the brilliant work they have delivered during the pandemic and beyond – as opposed to being deterred by the headlines reporting PTSD, high levels of stress and not wanting to endure their job without support.
The Healthcare Workers’ Foundation recognises that until the government is able to support healthcare workers in a meaningful way, they can step in to provide much-needed mental health and welfare assistance when it’s needed the most. Through its community-led fundraising initiatives, the charity provides frontline staff with day-to-day necessities, mental health services, bereavement services for the families of healthcare workers that lost their lives during the pandemic and much more.