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One in three NHS staff are also family carers, survey shows

Nurses need more flexibility when juggling work with caring responsibilities, says RCN
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Nurses need more flexibility when juggling work with caring responsibilities, says RCN

Nearly a third of NHS staff in England, including nurses, juggle work with caring responsibilities at home, a survey suggests.

The 2020 NHS Staff Survey finding has prompted the charity Carers UK to urge health service employers to become more carer-friendly or risk losing staff who are finding it hard to cope.

Nurses with caring responsibilities must get the support they need

The survey, sent out to staff in 280 NHS organisations across England, asked: Do you look after or give any help or support to family, friends, neighbours or

Nurses need more flexibility when juggling work with caring responsibilities, says RCN

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Nearly a third of NHS staff in England, including nurses, juggle work with caring responsibilities at home, a survey suggests.

The 2020 NHS Staff Survey finding has prompted the charity Carers UK to urge health service employers to become more carer-friendly – or risk losing staff who are finding it hard to cope.

Nurses with caring responsibilities must get the support they need

The survey, sent out to staff in 280 NHS organisations across England, asked: ‘Do you look after or give any help or support to family, friends, neighbours or others because of long-term physical or mental ill health/disability, or problems related to old age?’

A total of 554,934 people answered this question, with 32% (179,244) saying they had caring responsibilities and 68% (375,690) saying they did not. The charity estimates that before the pandemic, 600 people a day across all professions gave up work to care for someone.

Carers UK chief executive Helen Walker said: ‘The NHS has taken an important first step in identifying carers and we will work with them to support this huge swathe of employees – talent the NHS cannot afford to lose.’

RCN national officer and team leader Hannah Reed said that while many nurses already had caring responsibilities some also had the added responsibility of looking after loved ones affected by COVID-19.

‘During the pandemic we pressed employers to provide additional flexibilities for staff with such responsibilities and many have been able to work from home on administrative tasks or change their hours,’ she said. ‘We hope that nurses with caring responsibilities will get the support they need going forward. This will only be possible by investing to create a safely staffed workforce.’

Caring at work, caring at home: what are your rights?

Flexible working

All UK employees with more than 26 weeks' service can request flexible working. This includes part-time or term-time working, compressed hours or job sharing.

Time off in emergencies

All employees have the right to take a ‘reasonable’ amount of time off work to deal with an emergency or an unforeseen matter involving the health of a dependant. Carer's leave is unpaid unless your employer gives you paid time off as a contractual right.

Parental leave

If you have 12 months' service and are responsible for a child you have a legal right to take time off work to look after a child or make arrangements for a child's welfare, with up to 18 weeks’ leave per child.

Source: Carers UK factsheet


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