Covid has left staff feeling exhausted with workers ‘hung out to dry’ by the Government

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NHS and frontline workers are feeling burnt out and exhausted after dealing with the impact of the Covid pandemic over the past two years, the founder of a service supporting healthcare staff has warned.

Many workers have been “hung out to dry” by the Government and are feeling “lower now” than at any other point during the pandemic, founder of Frontline19 Claire Goodwin-Fee said

Last year, NationalWorld spoke with the service to find out about how workers were coping with the pandemic.

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Ms Goodwin-Fee said in June 2021 that the workload of healthcare staff had led to them feeling burnt out, especially due to the NHS and ambulance services being overwhelmed with Covid patients.

She added that staff also struggled with the lack of PPE and colleagues becoming sick or having to shield, which led to staffing issues.

‘They are under enormous pressure to reduce waiting lists’

Fast-forward to 2022 and Ms Goodwin-Fee said workers are “more exhausted emotionally and physically”.

She added: “They have slightly more space to unpack things mentally but are also exhausted by what they have been through over an extended period of time.

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“They are under enormous pressure to reduce waiting lists as well as operate a fully functional health service at all levels.”

The number of staff also having to self-isolate due to Covid has taken its toll over recent months.

Ms Goodwin-Fee said it impacts staff as they are “covering colleagues’ positions because of sick leave, isolation and staff leaving due to their experiences of the pandemic and what they describe as poor working conditions and low morale”.

“This is all on top of managing to work through a deadly pandemic, vaccines programme, grief, bereavement, loss and high levels of anxiety and trauma,” she added.

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She said that although isolating is necessary if someone has been ill with Covid, there is often added pressure for staff to return to work “long before they feel physically and mentally well enough to do so”.

‘The knock-on effect on frontline workers will be seen for years to come’

In June last year, paramedic Zara*, from Sussex, had found that her mental health declined a few months into the pandemic.

After reaching out for help, Zara was put in contact with Frontline19 and was also speaking to a counsellor on a weekly basis, but said that “the knock-on effect on frontline workers will be seen for years to come”.

Ms Goodwin-Fee said staff are also now having to think about the huge backlog of patients that need care and that many “don’t feel supported by the Government or generally and so feel demoralised and have very low morale”.

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“After giving so much of themselves, by working without the correct PPE, losing colleagues, anxiety around their own health and others they have been hung out to dry by the Prime Minister and government,” she added.

What can NHS workers do if they are feeling burnt out?

Ms Goodwin-Fee urged those feeling burnt out to reach out to someone, even if they can’t say the words, she encourages people to text, email or write it down.

She said: “No one is ok right now and remember that you are not alone. Sharing how you feel can help with feelings of isolation, failure and fear.

“No one has failed if they feel their mental health has suffered and reaching out to others is a brave but much-needed decision.

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“You can get support from your GP, some workplaces and many charities such as Frontline19.”

However, Ms Goodwin-Fee added that more funding needs to become available “to support the emotional needs of the workforce and an investment in the long term”.

*Zara wished to keep her real name anonymous.

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