Concern for welfare mounts amid increasing pressures – but 9 in 10 people still back NHS staff

On 7th March 2023
Categories: 2023

New research indicates UK public support for NHS staff is as high as ever, despite ongoing challenges, with nine in ten people (91%) saying they still value the work of those in the NHS – and three quarters (72%) saying they value them ‘a great deal’1. However, as NHS pressures mount, in a separate survey 65% of people were extremely or very concerned about the impact of continued pressures on the health and wellbeing of staff2 – over half of whom have reported anxiety in the last six months.3

We are launching a campaign to harness support for the healthcare workforce, after the new research3 conducted with NHS staff showed that in addition to anxiety, just under half have experienced physical exhaustion (49%) and a quarter reported depression (24%). Around half (48%) said they would benefit from psychological support and/or counselling services at this time and one in five (20%) requested intensive therapy for trauma support3.

This year is the 75th anniversary of the NHS, and for the second year we are running our #WithAllOurHearts campaign throughout March to raise awareness of the increasing need for support for NHS staff and the difference NHS charities can make to their health and wellbeing, while sharing the reality of life on the frontline. 

Francis Fernando, Associate Director of Nursing and Quality at North East London Foundation NHS Trust, is one voice contributing.

Francis said:

“I returned to work in the thick of the pandemic after an 18-month absence triggered by depression. I was ready to work but it was a frightening and exhausting time – both mentally and physically. All of us were deeply affected, it would be impossible not to be. On one ward we lost two members of staff.

“The last few years have been hard, but I still wouldn’t ask for any other job in the world and I couldn’t be prouder of being a nurse. But we are under more pressure than ever before and many of us across the health service are in need of extra support.”

NHS Charities Together provides support to staff in every hospital and health board of the UK, funding counselling and dedicated psychologists for staff who are under immense pressure, helplines to ensure they have someone to talk to, and wellbeing zones to offer somewhere to rest and recharge during busy shifts.

Dale Travis is the Deputy Chief Strategy and Transformation Officer at the North West Anglia NHS Foundation Trust.

She said:

“I love working for the NHS because of the camaraderie between staff members, who work incredibly hard for our patients, but I feel it is much harder to work for the NHS now than it’s ever been. There is more demand, higher scrutiny from the media and increased patient expectation, as well as more recruitment difficulties than before. This has led to the hardest winter I’ve ever experienced.

“Projects that support staff are so important and it’s the little things that make the difference, such as mobile tea caddies for staff that can’t get away from the clinical areas, and wellbeing zones so that they have the chance to relax. Counselling for staff is also incredibly valuable. The responsibility we face as health workers can be astronomical and having someone professional to talk to is a lifeline.”

Read more about Dale’s story here.

Ellie Orton OBE, Chief Executive at NHS Charities Together, said:

For most of the NHS workforce theirs is still the greatest job in the world, but it comes with challenges. And three years after the onset of Covid-19, things have not got any easier. Dealing with ever-increasing waitlists, long hours and scrutiny, all whilst recovering from the strain of a global pandemic, mental health issues are sadly all too prevalent – but with the right infrastructure they are an avoidable casualty.

“NHS Charities Together is working hard to support all NHS staff who need it, and we’re grateful for everyone who helps make that support possible.”

You can help support NHS staff by purchasing a blue heart pin badge in your nearest Starbucks store. Badges are a donation of £1 and all proceeds go to NHS Charities Together.

  1. Research from YouGov Plc.  Total sample size was 2,075 adults. Fieldwork was undertaken between 19th – 20th January 2023.  The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all UK adults (aged 18+)
  2. Charity Awareness Monitor January 2023, nfpResearch. Base 1004 UK adults
  3. Research from YouGov Plc.  Total sample size was 1,004 adults working in the NHS. Fieldwork was undertaken between 11th-17th October 2022.  The survey was carried out online.

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