“All NHS staff have been directly affected by the virus, in one way or another.”
Speaking to the NHE365 Staff Wellbeing & Welfare event, Isabel Lawicka, Head of Policy and Analysis at NHS Providers, described the challenges that the health service has faced over the past 12 months, and the lessons we have learned from it, and continue to learn as we rebuild non-Covid services again.
Particularly, growing concerns around staff exhaustion levels and wellbeing have been raised by most NHS trust leaders.
As Ms Lawicka described: “[In a recent survey] 99% of NHS trust leaders raised their concerns about burnout.
“Even before the pandemic, staff were exhausted dealing with year-round levels of work; the likes of which were typically only seen in winter.
“[Then the pandemic happened] and everybody came together in the best interest of looking after patients and colleagues. Some of our staff were disproportionately affected: the pandemic bringing into focus the challenges of long-standing racial inequalities.
“It has led to dedicated support for BAME staff and volunteers. We all know there is far more to do in this area, but the pandemic has at least opened up some difficult conversations which were long overdue.
“Hopefully this continues, particularly in hearing the lived experiences [of staff and colleagues].”
And for Ms Lawicka and her colleagues at NHS Providers, one of the key messages they’ve heard from the NHS trust leaders they work with has been around being ‘visible leaders’. About having an honesty and calmness about their approach, and stressing the importance of teamwork.
“Different things will help different people at different times. We need to look at building a resilient system.”