Mental health of nursing staff has worsened since pandemic latest survey shows
A poll looking at the effect of Covid-19 on the well-being of nursing staff in Wales has revealed that over half of the respondents have shown signs of depression while close to two thirds have considered leaving the profession.
According to results published in the Nursing Times, 2,880 nurses, midwives and healthcare support workers participated in an online survey, carried out by Public Health Wales (PHW) between June and August 2021 which found that 71% of respondents said their mental health had worsened since the beginning of the pandemic.
Of those who responded 31% had scores suggesting possible clinical depression and 27.3% had scores suggesting mild depression, totalling 58.3% overall,
Newly registered nurses and healthcare support workers showed the highest proportions of probable clinical depression at 36.3% and 37% respectively.
Nearly 60% had considered leaving the profession since the pandemic began and among early-career nurses this figure rose to 67%.
The survey also found that 80% had reported for work when unwell, with stress, anxiety, depression, and musculoskeletal conditions being given as the main complaint while working when sick.
The analysis looked at answers to questions about whether staff felt optimistic about the future; were thinking clearly; felt useful; and were dealing with problems well.
Duty of care
The survey also asked about whether they had tested positive for Covid-19 or had experienced symptoms, with over 44% of newly qualified nurses reporting the highest number of Covid-19 cases during the pandemic.
Speaking in the Nursing Times, Rhiannon Beaumont Wood, executive director quality, nursing and allied health professionals at Public Health Wales said: “The levels of poor mental health reported amongst the nursing and midwifery workforce is a concern, both in the context of the current Covid-19 response and on health and wellbeing of the workforce more broadly, which in turn will have the potential to impact on recruitment and retention in the longer term.”
Chief Nursing Officer for Wales, Sue Tranka said: “Ensuring we have a targeted and consistent health and wellbeing offer for our workforce in Wales is fundamentally important.
“I want all staff to feel empowered to ask for help and support for themselves and for each other as needed.”
Nicky Hughes, associate director for employment and relations at the Royal College of Nursing in Wales, said: “The survey results make very sad reading and as we have said before, the coronavirus pandemic has shown nurses and other health care workers in a light never seen before.
“Organisations have a duty of care to look after nurses’ health and wellbeing to enable them to care for patients.”
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