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Staff shortages and burnout: NHS Teeters Towards Breaking Point

  • reporter 
Roger Blackwell NHS workers go on strike on 15 November outside St Thomas’s Hospital London over pay disputes

A West Yorkshire recruitment agency has said it has been inundated with calls for health workers.

This comes after staff shortages, Brexit and pay disputes have left the NHS on its knees.

West Yorkshire recruitment consultant Antonia, 31, expects this to continue into the winter: “Honestly the phone does not stop ringing, local hospitals need the workers.”

It’s something retired paediatric nurse Linda, 58, says was to be expected.

“They’ve known this was coming and refused to do anything about it,” she said.

It’s estimated 20,000 doctors and 40,000 nurses left the NHS from April 2021 to April 2022 this year according to official statistics. However, perhaps most concerning is that two-thirds of leavers were under the age of 45, suggesting that young people are not willing to sacrifice their health and well-being, and with 47% of the NHS workforce aged over 45 retiring staff will need to be replaced.

Linda is not surprised by the statistics. “Chickens come home to roost,” she shrugged.

The government has insisted that staff recruitment is at a good level, but the impact of the last few years is worrying student nurse Mollie, 20,

“I was really excited and proud to work for the NHS even though my family said it would be really hard but with everything going on I think I might have to do something else”.

Advanced nurse practitioner, Isha Hussain. Photo: Mohsin Ali

It’s a situation advanced nurse practitioner Isha Hussain, 45, from Bradford, is sympathetic to,

“We have had recently hired graduates quit their roles early on; it is a difficult job, but I’ve been doing it for over ten years, and I’ve worked hard to get where I am.”

One of the biggest knock-on effects from the constant turnover of staff is the increased need for temporary and agency workers. Indeed, many former NHS staff have found the autonomy and shift choice of switching to being an agency worker beneficial to managing stress and burnout.

The flipside though is that NHS bosses are having to pay over the 55% limit cap of what an ordinary employee receives to ensure enough staff are on wards.

It’s been labelled the winter of discontent by many, and a lack of resources and funding is threatening to plunge one of the UK’s oldest establishments into chaos.

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