Trusts are almost unanimous in their concern for their staff, with 92% agreeing with the statement “I am concerned about staff wellbeing, stress and burnout following the pandemic”. All combined trusts and mental health trusts agreed with this statement, while 78% of specialist trusts agreed, reflecting the differential impact of the virus on different types of trust, but it is clear that the strain of the outbreak on NHS staff is top of mind for trust leaders, with implications for how they go about restoring services.
The impact of COVID-19 on staff has been substantial and wide-ranging. Trust leaders cite high levels of staff absence (70%), and said staff will need a chance to take leave over the summer to recover, with many concerned about the impact on staff should there be further waves of the outbreak. In order to support their staff, trusts have been engaging with them, such as via virtual listening events, to ensure their views are heard as part of the return to providing normal services.
Many staff are still experiencing the pandemic…We have focussed on learning this past two weeks. We had a week-long learning week [with] 32 virtual events focus on staff wellbeing, hearing their experiences and getting to what we/they have learnt, what to keep etc. We had 700-plus staff involved and 132 service users over the week and it looks like it has gone very well…Staff also fed back they felt heard and supported and validated in the process.combined mental health/learning disability and community trust
In March, many staff were also redeployed to support the COVID-19 response, and the process of restoring services will also entail these staff returning to their prior areas of work. This will only be able to take place when the need for COVID-19 specific resource is substantially reduced and will also require regular testing of these staff to ensure they can safely work with non-COVID-19 patients. As part of the ongoing need to maintain surge capacity, 78% of trusts have undertaken workforce reconfiguration to redeploy staff or create more flexible roles and are committed to supporting their workforce with this process.