NHS staff “stressed and burnt out” by pandemic

NHS staff have been left “stressed and burnt out” by the COVID pandemic, with union bosses fearing it is “hard to see a light at the end of the tunnel”.

The Mid and South Essex Hospital Trust has been battling increased pressure, with significant staff shortages adding to pressure created by the COVID pandemic.

The trust, including Basildon, Southend and Broomfield hospitals hit “Operational Pressures and Escalation Level Three” in September, just one below the most serious level.

If the hospitals had hit level four, they would have been “unable to deliver comprehensive care” and patient safety would have been “at risk”.

Only 76 per cent of A&E patients were treated within four hours in September, below the 95 per cent target.

This continued a seven month downward trend but remained just above the national 75.2 per cent average.

Unison Eastern regional organiser Sam Older said: “The pandemic has left Essex’s NHS workers stressed and burnt out, chronic staff shortages are making matter worse. There’s only so much they can take.

“With ​an enormous treatment backlog, winter pressures looming and the possibility of further COVID surges, it’s hard to see a light at the end of the tunnel.

“Ministers must do more to solve the workforce crisis. A key part of that is to give the above-inflation pay rise staff more than deserve​.

“This would lift morale for existing staff at breaking point and make the NHS a ​more attractive career choice for the future.”

A spokesperson for Mid and South Essex NHS Trust urged the public to continue to follow COVID rules to alleviate pressure on hospitals.

They said:“NHS waiting lists have grown due to the pandemic.

“We have brought in additional theatre capacity and are operating seven days a week to treat patients as soon as possible.

“Our staff are working exceptionally hard to care for patients, and we would ask the public to support us by making sure they please continue to follow hands, face and space guidance and to have their booster vaccine when offered or flu vaccine if eligible.

“Following these rules will help ensure that our trust and our staff can safely treat everyone who needs our care this winter.

“Our hospitals are open and patients should attend planned appointments and procedures as normal unless we contact them to say otherwise.”

The trust said the number of COVID-19 patients being cared for is increasing and was “vital that our patients and the community follow the national guidance to help keep people safe. People are asked to follow social distance measures, sanitise hands and wear face coverings”.

Christine Sexton

Local Democracy Reporter