NHS Wales: 70% of nurses and midwives say mental worsened during pandemic
Findings from Public Health Wales’ new report highlights the detrimental impact of the Coronavirus pandemic on the mental health and wellbeing of nurses and midwives in Wales.
2,880 registered nurses, midwives and health care support workers across Wales responded to an online survey during June – August 2021, sharing their reflections on the impact of the pandemic on their health and wellbeing.
Key findings include 70 per cent of respondents perceived that their mental health had worsened since the beginning of the pandemic.
Over 50 per cent of respondents had mental wellbeing scores indicative of either probable clinical depression (31 per cent) or possible mild depression (27 per cent).
After taking age and gender into account, healthcare support workers were twice as likely to report scores indicative of probable clinical depression than senior managerial nurses.
Attending work when unwell (presenteeism) was common. Overall, 80 per cent of respondents had attended work at least once in the past year when unwell.
Stress, anxiety and depression
The survey found that stress, anxiety and depression, and musculoskeletal conditions were the main reasons reported for attending work when unwell.
Newly qualified nurses, mid-career nurses and healthcare support workers were the professional groups who reported frequently attending work when unwell.
Almost, 60 per cent of respondents had considered leaving the profession since the beginning of the pandemic. This was highest amongst early-career nurses (67 per cent) and mid-career nurses (62 per cent).
Benjamin Gray, Senior Public Health Researcher at Public Health Wales and lead author of the report said:
“This is one of the largest surveys amongst a key workforce in the Welsh NHS – and we thank all those who took part.”
“Whilst we recognise that those who did respond may not be representative of the wider profession, the findings are consistent with wider evidence from across the UK.”
“Understanding the longer term direct and indirect impact of responding to COVID-19 on physical and mental health, is needed to direct support.”
Rhiannon Beaumont Wood, Executive Director Quality, Nursing & AHPs, Executive Team, Public Health Wales said:
“The levels of poor mental health reported amongst the nursing and midwifery workforce is a concern, both in the context of the current COVID-19 response and on health and wellbeing of the workforce more broadly, which in turn will have the potential to impact on recruitment and retention in the longer term.”
“Therefore mental health should remain a priority for any health and wellbeing workforce strategies.”
Sue Tranka, Chief Nursing Officer, Welsh Government, said:
“Ensuring we have a targeted and consistent health and wellbeing offer for our workforce in Wales is fundamentally important. ”
“I want all staff to feel empowered to ask for help and support for themselves and for each other as needed.”
“We recognise that organisations that prioritise staff wellbeing see higher levels of staff and patient satisfaction as well as being better able to retain the workforce needed to meet service requirements for now and future demands. Thank you to PHW for undertaking this valuable survey.”
The ‘Health and wellbeing of the nursing and midwifery workforce in Wales during the COVID-19 pandemic’ was put together using 2,880 responses to a national online survey amongst registered and student nurses/midwives and health care support workers in Wales.
In consideration of service pressures. The survey was open between 21 June and 9 August 2021 and at a time where Coronavirus NHS pressures were the lowest in 12 months and Wales was beginning to move to alert stage one.
The questionnaire collated data on demographics, work related information (role, pay and environmental factors) and health and wellbeing from respondents.
- Wellbeing support and resources for those working in all roles across the health systems in Wales are available within the Health Education and Improvement Wales available here: Colleague health and wellbeing – HEIW (nhs.wales)