8 June 2021
Responding to the Health and Social Care committee’s report “Workforce burnout and resilience in the NHS and social care”, Dr Katherine Henderson, President of the Royal College of Emergency Medicine, said:
“The findings of the report may be shocking to some but will come as no surprise to health leaders and health care workers. The College has long raised concerns about workforce shortages, staff burnout and lack of funding, and has been calling for a workforce plan and a joined-up strategy to manage the exit from the pandemic.
“The health service is facing an overwhelmingly challenging time and the previous lack of workforce planning has let existing health and social care staff down. The workforce was short of staff before the pandemic. Existing staff, after 15 months of incredibly tough work when they lived on adrenaline and a lot of good will, are now facing a significant jump in demand and pressure. They are exhausted and burned out, physically and mentally, and many have had little, or no respite and are now back in the deep end facing a rise in intense pressures and hospital activity. And there is a growing risk that senior clinicians could retire early, or junior staff leave the profession, leaving a less experienced and smaller workforce behind.
“Following today’s publication of the Health and Social Care committee’s report we hope that the Government and Members of Parliament will now recognise the severity of challenges that the health service and its staff face and take necessary actions. The Health and Social Care committee provide welcome and detailed recommendations. If no action is taken, there will be, as the report says, ‘an extraordinarily dangerous risk to the future functioning of both services’.”
Commenting on the Health and Social Care committee’s report “Workforce burnout and resilience in the NHS and social care”, Dr Hodon Abdi and Dr Dave Chung co-chairs of the Royal College of Emergency Medicine’s Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (EDI) committee, said:
“The HSC committee report lays out the disparities between staff from an ethnic minority background and their white counterparts. In Emergency Medicine alone, data from our own staff survey showed that during the first wave of the pandemic, one third of staff from an ethnic minority background were “very concerned” about their health compared with only 8% of white staff.
“The report goes on to reference the Workforce Race Equality Standard Report, the NHS Staff Survey, and quoting health leaders and data from a range of sources including: the BMA; NHS Providers; The King’s Fund; NHS Confederation; and other medical Royal Colleges.
“The sheer amount of evidence makes it clear that staff from an ethnic minority background face negative experiences including bullying and abuse, employment barriers, workplace issues and inequalities within the NHS.
“Nearly one quarter of the NHS workforce is made up of staff from ethnic minority groups, so when the treatment of staff from these groups appears to be institutional and systemic, it must be met with swift and effective action and support for those affected. Racism, racist behaviours, disparities, and inequalities are completely unacceptable and the failure to address these issues is a failure to staff affected. The NHS has a duty to its workforce and must do everything in its power to build an inclusive environment that values all staff equitably and equally.”