ScHARR Mini Master Class in Health Research - Supporting a mentally healthy NHS workforce - Dr Emily Wood
From Andy Tattersall
There are over 100,000 vacancies in the NHS, meaning 1 in 12 jobs are unfilled. Half of staff report working unpaid overtime and 1 in 8 left the NHS in 2018. Chronic understaffing and long hours leads to significant stress with 40% of staff reporting suffering from work related stress in the NHS staff survey.
In 2015, NHS Professionals launched a large campaign to move NHS management thinking away from workforce wellbeing as a ‘nice to have’ and towards seeing it as a priority area. In 2020, NHS Employers launched ‘Get on-board with health and wellbeing priorities’, suggesting not much had changed in five years. Unfortunately this new initiative was launched in March and quickly got overshadowed by the COVID-19 crisis.
The pandemic shifted the focus of stress for the NHS workforce but it did not create it. Many were already struggling.
The majority of workforce wellbeing interventions focus on trying to help the staff member cope with stress. Many of these are short term interventions and do nothing to address the wider causes of stress in the first place. Some have even gone so far as to say these interventions are akin to victim blaming, as they suggest it is the worker’s fault they cannot cope with stress, when we should be looking at why they are under stress in the first place.
This webinar will look at some of the research we have done to model the complex relationships between staff retention, job satisfaction and wellbeing and organisational culture and place that in the wider context.
Dr Wood is a mental health nurse researcher working in the School of Health and Related Research and the Health Sciences School at the University of Sheffield. Her research focuses on workforce issues, including staff experience, retention and wellbeing. She is currently working on two major projects, one on retention of mental health staff funded by the Health Foundation and one on workforce experience funded by the Royal College of Nursing.