‘One in four NHS staff more likely to quit than a year ago’

A new survey of healthcare workers shows a quarter are more likely to leave the NHS after the pressures they have faced this year.

a care worker bandaging an elderly man's arm


Up to a quarter of healthcare workers say they are more likely to leave the NHS due to a year of unprecedented pressure, according to a new survey.

The survey of 1,000 healthcare workers by IPPR/YouGov accompanies an IPPR report, ‘Recover, Reward, Renew’, finds just under half of staff have worked an under-staffed shift once a week or more, and nearly half say they have been unable to provide the level of patient care they would like to due to constraints beyond their control.

Two thirds report being mentally exhausted on at least a weekly basis. A quarter report using alcohol and/or drugs to deal with stress weekly or more often. And five per cent of workers report thinking about suicide or self-harm once a week or more.

Workers from minority ethnic backgrounds were twice as likely to report experiencing discrimination or unfair treatment from managers or colleagues (31 per cent) compared to staff from white ethnic backgrounds (16 per cent).

Almost nine in 10 workers identify slow or delayed government policy during the pandemic – such as late lockdowns – as an important contributor to the country’s Covid-19 outcomes. Eight in 10 identify the fact the NHS was under-resourced at the start of the pandemic as important.

Dr Parth Patel, IPPR research fellow and NHS doctor, said: “The last 12 months have stretched an already very thin workforce to breaking point. Many are exhausted, frustrated and in need of better support. If the government does not do right by them now, more may leave their jobs.

“This should ring alarm bells for a government that came into power pledging big increases in nursing numbers. It would have significant consequences for patient safety and quality of care. The backlog of care is long and the pandemics’ disruptions will be felt for years to come. The hard road to renewal in health relies, first and foremost, on a new deal for NHS workers.”

The IPPR is calling for ‘a new deal’ for healthcare workers based on recovery, reward and renewal.  Chris Thomas, IPPR senior research fellow, said: “A new deal for the workforce means a right to flexible working, a five-year guarantee for untaken annual leave and compensation when leave requests are rejected. It means a fair pay award, to help retain workers and to boost the economy. And it means more career progression and tougher action to end discrimination.

“Bad policy during the pandemic and during the austerity decade created our workforce crisis. Good policy can get us out of the crisis now. If that’s not forthcoming, the government risks a deadly exodus of healthcare workers in the years to come.”

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