Union leaders are calling for a recovery plan for NHS workers as part of an easing of the lockdown after new research showed the impact of the coronavirus crisis on their mental health.
A survey of 3,000 health workers by the GMB found more than half of those who contracted coronavirus said it had either had negative or severe medical impact on their mental health.
Around 1,000 said they have had Covid-19, with most saying they experienced poor mental health as a result, the union said. Workers described experiencing seizures, shock, emotional damage and a lack of mental health support.
Rachel Harrison, GMB national officer, said: “Our NHS members are telling us about the terrible toll of working flat out on the front line during this pandemic and the severe impacts catching Covid has on their mental health.
“These are the people who have been saving lives throughout the pandemic. Now they need ministers to look after them. Today, the Prime Minister unveils his road map out of lockdown. We call on him to outline a plan to help our beleaguered health workers recover from this pandemic.”
Comments from survey respondents included:
– “I am suffering from shock at work due to the very, very high numbers of deaths in the hospital I work in. The figures are so high and the shock is very emotionally damaging. It makes me feel numb that we lost so many patients. We have lost a lot of staff too.”
– “I think the trust is not supporting the mental health of their workers through the pandemic.”
– “Everyone’s mental health had suffered. Staff are burnt out. Pay increase should reflect hard work, not pay freeze as in previous years.”
– “Little to no mental health support for staff – they talk about how they’re offering it but giving a number out is not supportive.”
– “There needs to be huge funding for mental health services and bereavement services.”
– “What about the long-term effect this has on frontline staff both physically and mentally that are dealing with patient care hands-on and families?”
The survey was among NHS workers ranging from ambulance staff and paramedics to porters and cleaners.