COVID-19: ‘exhausted’ nurses urged to take annual leave and focus on well-being

Nurse leaders voice concern that a tired workforce will face a second wave of cases

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Exhausted nurses should take annual leave and recharge ahead of a possible second wave of COVID-19, a critical care nursing leader has warned.

British Association of Critical Care Nurses chair Nicki Credland told Nursing Standard that the last four months had led to ‘a lot of psychological trauma’ among the NHS workforce.

Nicki Credland: 'We have a really tired
and exhausted workforce'

Ms Credland said: ‘I think the biggest concern that we have moving into winter is that we have a really tired and exhausted workforce.’

In preparation for the winter season, Ms Credland said nurses, and other healthcare staff across all sectors, should use the summer months to prioritise their well-being.

‘We need to use these months to allow our staff to be able to take some down time and annual leave – that’s really important,’ she said.

Trusts urged to prioritise mental well-being of staff

Ms Credland added: ‘Every trust in the country should have some facility to be able to support mental well-being of staff, following COVID-19.

‘Looking after staff should be an absolute priority.’

She also warned that intensive care units were facing a potential increase in patients with COVID-19 on top of their usual caseload, but with fewer staff as redeployed nurses moved back to normal roles.

Queen’s Nursing Institute chief executive Crystal Oldman said ongoing efforts to recruit ‘more suitably skilled and prepared staff to increase capacity and capability’ would be a vital part of planning for community nursing services at a national level.

Second peak of infections anticipated later this year

Dr Oldman added: ‘It is important that nurses should take annual leave now to rest and recuperate, and also so that teams have capacity when needed in the anticipated second peak of infections later in the year.’

NHS Employers chief executive Danny Mortimer said it was crucial NHS staff were encouraged to look after themselves.

He added that the organisation was working with trade unions on joint national guidance about the effective management of annual leave during the pandemic.

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