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COVID-19 mental health crisis for nurses in Wales, survey reveals

Public Health Wales figures show 70% of nurses surveyed said their mental health and well-being had worsened during pandemic, sparking staff retention fears

Public Health Wales figures show 70% of nurses surveyed said their mental health and well-being had worsened during pandemic, sparking staff retention fears

Almost three quarters of nurses in Wales believe their mental health worsened during the pandemic, with many reporting they attended work even when unwell, new figures show.

More than 2,800 nurses were asked about the impact the pandemic has had on their health and well-being, with 70% saying their mental health had worsened.

A wake-up call for the Welsh Government

The

Public Health Wales figures show 70% of nurses surveyed said their mental health and well-being had worsened during pandemic, sparking staff retention fears

Public Health Wales figures show 70% of nurses surveyed said their mental health and well-being had worsened during the COVID-19 pandemic
Picture: iStock

Almost three quarters of nurses in Wales believe their mental health worsened during the pandemic, with many reporting they attended work even when unwell, new figures show.

More than 2,800 nurses were asked about the impact the pandemic has had on their health and well-being, with 70% saying their mental health had worsened.

A wake-up call for the Welsh Government

The new figures from Public Health Wales (PHW) also revealed close to 60% of respondents had mental well-being scores indicative of either clinical depression (31%) or mild depression (27%).

Overall, 80% said they had attended work at least once in the past year when unwell, particularly among newly qualified and mid-career nurses.

Stress, anxiety, depression, and musculoskeletal conditions were the most common conditions reported when attending work unwell.

RCN Wales associate director Nicky Hughes said the survey should serve as a ‘wake-up call’ to the Welsh Government that nurses are being asked to keep going in the face of ‘intolerable pressure, with no end in sight’.

‘Nursing staff are burnt out and exhausted yet are being asked to do more and more for less, and many are struggling to make ends meet,’ she said.

‘The pandemic is not yet over and unless there is improved pay and working conditions, such bleak statistics will continue to impact safe care for patients and cause our members to leave the profession they love.’

Over half of nurses in Wales considered leaving profession since start of pandemic

Almost 60% of respondents said they had considered leaving nursing since the start of the pandemic, a figure that increased to 67% for early-career nurses.

The figures correlate with the RCN's 2021 employment survey which found 57% of the nearly 10,000 registered nurses, healthcare support workers and nursing associates who responded had either thought about, or were actively planning to leave the profession.

PHW executive director of quality, nursing and allied health professionals Rhiannon Beaumont-Wood said mental health and well-being needs to be a ‘priority’ for any future workforce strategies.

Staff to vote on strike over 4% offer

Chief nursing officer for Wales Sue Tranka said: ‘Ensuring we have a targeted and consistent health and well-being offer for our workforce in Wales is fundamentally important.

‘We recognise that organisations that prioritise staff well-being see higher levels of staff and patient satisfaction, as well as being better able to retain the workforce needed to meet service requirements for now and future demands.’

Nurses in Wales are set to be balloted on industrial action following a pay offer of 4% after the Welsh Government made it clear no further funding for the pay award was available.


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