Almost All NHS Trust Leaders Concerned About Staff Burnout, NHS Providers Finds

28 October 2020

Liaison Workforce

99% of NHS trust leaders are at least moderately concerned about the current level of burnout across their workforce, NHS Providers has said in a new report focused on workforce flexibility throughout COVID-19.

The report, titled “Workforce flexibility in the NHS: Utilising COVID-19 innovations”, has also found that the speed at which innovations and flexible practices have been implemented in the health service have been “impressive and encouraging”.

Other findings from the report include:

  • Some Sustainability and Transformation Plans and Integrated Care Systems have created system-wide staff banks which have enabled them to fill workforce gaps more efficiently.
  • Reduced bureaucracy in staff deployment across the NHS has increased opportunities for staff to work flexibly and to develop their skills.
  • The contributions of fast-tracked students and returning staff have valuably increased workforce capacity, but funding and expanded training is needed to retain them. According to the report, funding to ensure the recruitment and retention of NHS staff has never been more vital.
  • Local initiatives need central funding to continue to ensure that trusts are not forced to choose between staff wellbeing and investing resources in frontline care. Wellbeing initiatives must also be used to build flexibility into the system.
  • Increased collaboration across the health and care system, alongside simplified regulation, has been beneficial to the delivery of care during the pandemic.

The report makes a number of key recommendations across different areas in order to ensure the benefits of flexibilities in the NHS continue to be felt after the pandemic:

  • Cross-organisation working
    • A more proportionate, risk-based approach to regulation should be generated, built on learning from the approach taken during the pandemic.
  • Technology
    • National steer should be provided on requirements for HR software, to allow trusts to procure services safe in the knowledge that if they adhere to national requirements there will be interoperability at a local level.
    • Additional capital funding should be made available to enable trusts to provide staff with necessary home working equipment, to ensure that this remains a viable option for flexible working going forwards.
  • Staff wellbeing
    • The Spending Review must provide additional funding to support local action which has been taken to improve staff wellbeing.
    • There must be active national support for NHS staff through a sustained and coordinated approach to mental health and wellbeing.
    • National and local initiatives to address racial inequality in the NHS must empower and protect BAME people, without prescribing “one size fits all” solutions or putting the onus of change upon BAME staff.
  • Flexibility in staff deployment
    • The DHSC must work closely with leaders to create a highly supportive environment with additional funding.
    • Reduced levels of bureaucracy around staff deployment should be retained.
    • Guidance on safe and legal deployment should be developed into a national framework.
  • Making use of new roles
    • Health education institutions should consider expanding trainee settings to more types of trust and should retain clinical placements for final year students.
  • Funding
    • Investment in the retention and recruitment of NHS staff should be prioritised, which requires investment in wellbeing, improved technology, and greater flexibility in working patterns and roles.

Liaison Workforce offers a number of solutions to support workforce wellbeing, including the provision of People Analytics to improve actionable HR data, and collaborative banks, such as the upcoming Southwest Peninsula NHS Staff Bank, to encourage effective and streamlined system working.

Judith Shaw, Managing Director of Liaison Workforce, says: “Through our data-driven insights, ground-breaking technology and solution-focused people, our aim is to help NHS organisations meet their workforce objectives, especially during the current trying times caused by COVID-19, and to deliver programmes which drive measurable improvement in all areas of workforce management.

“We recognise the challenges identified by this report, and continue to ensure that our solutions fit and solve such challenges to ensure strong and sustainable workforces moving forward.”

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