‘Bitter irony’ that health and care staff are made ill by their work: The King’s Fund response to the Commons Committee report on workforce burnout and resilience

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Responding to the Health and Social Care Committee report on workforce burnout and resilience in the NHS and social care, Suzie Bailey, Director of Leadership and Organisational Development at The King’s Fund, said:

‘This report provides a stark depiction of the chronic excessive workloads endured by staff across the NHS and social care. It is a bitter irony that so many health and care staff are made ill because of their work. 

‘It is particularly shocking that ethnic minority staff report worse experiences of working in the health and care system. In the latest NHS Staff Survey, 17 per cent of black and minority ethnic staff reported experiencing discrimination at the hands of their own colleagues. Sustained and concerted efforts are needed to rid health and care services of this systemic discrimination. 

‘The added pressure of the Covid-19 pandemic has left many staff physically and emotionally drained, but health and care services have been dogged by staff burnout and workforce shortages for many years. Despite this, successive governments have seen health and care workforce pressures as a problem for tomorrow. In line with the Health and Social Care Committee, we are calling for a new duty to require the regular publication of independently verified workforce projections. While this alone won’t solve the workforce crisis, it will mean government can be held to account for ensuring the health and care system has the workforce it needs.

‘There is an urgent need for a fully funded workforce strategy to increase recruitment, tackle staff burnout, and support health and care leaders to create compassionate and inclusive workplace cultures that staff want to work in. Without such a plan, we will continue to witness the vicious cycle that sees workforce shortages lead to overstretched staff leaving their profession prematurely.’

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The King's Fund is an independent charity working to improve health and care in England. We help to shape policy and practice through research and analysis; develop individuals, teams and organisations; promote understanding of the health and social care system; and bring people together to learn, share knowledge and debate. Our vision is that the best possible health and care is available to all.