The Pandemic: UK Healthcare Workers Hurt by Government Mismanagement

Since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic, around half of UK doctors have experienced hardship and distress due to poor working conditions. Many National Health Service (NHS) employees have not had access to proper protective kits and have been working long hours due to staff shortages. NHS officials have warned the government and asked for improvement in services as the pandemic surges. Are UK healthcare workers safe in the workplace? Does the UK Government provide proper facilities for the NHS staff? How do the doctors and nurses feel one year after the pandemic?

The coronavirus was detected in the United Kingdom in late January 2020 and the country is currently one of the worst-hit in the world. In addition to people and businesses which have been impacted by the virus, medical staff have also greatly suffered under the huge pressures. A poll conducted by the British Medical Association (BMA) suggests that nearly a third of UK doctors have said they were not completely protected from the coronavirus in their workplace. No one should attend the workplace while feeling unsafe, but these doctors, who have been key in dealing with the pandemic, have worked with that fear. As a result of official mishandling of health services, those whose job is to care for patients with complicated conditions have been feeling unsafe and stressed in unsuitable working conditions.

UK Healthcare Staff Suffered Huge Pressures During the Pandemic

Other surveys have shown that almost half of frontline doctors experienced distress during the first wave of the pandemic. The study questioned thousands of doctors in the UK and Ireland, suggesting that the first peak of the pandemic was accompanied by stress and hardship for them. The Royal College of Emergency Medicine (RCEM) conducted the survey on emergency and intensive care professionals and demonstrated that from the very first weeks of the coronavirus spread, half of healthcare workers were under stress and thought their section was not secure enough for appropriate contamination control. Seventy percent said the UK Government did not do enough to protect them. A third of the responders said they lacked access to Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) while working with Covid-19 patients or suspected cases. A third said they had to reuse disposable PPE and 10% said they were not properly trained to use PPE. Over half stated that they had tolerated stress and anxiety due to the pressures of the pandemic.

The UK Government Did Not Do Enough to Protect Healthcare Workers

As the pandemic was still in its initial stages, after weeks of struggle, a large number of NHS doctors said that they would rather quit their jobs over its terrible handling. The Doctors’ Association UK (DAUK) conducted a survey according to which two-thirds of doctors said they planned to move abroad or take a break for the next three years. The result of the survey showed a shocking failure by a government which did not respect the country’s doctors and their work. Seven out of ten doctors told DAUK that the “government’s treatment of frontline doctors during the pandemic impacted their decision to leave the NHS”. Also, 65% said a lack of personal protective equipment during the pandemic affected their decision as well. Doctors complained about poor working conditions, poor payment, insufficient PPE and fragile official promises made for political purposes, making them feel exploited.

NHS Doctors Decided to Quit Due to Terrible Handling of the Situation

Officials in the National Health Service Confederation, which represents healthcare providers, in a letter to Prime Minister Boris Johnson, also warned about exhausted staff and NHS problems to improve its services at the same speed as the surge in the pandemic. They mentioned that due to pre-pandemic challenges existing in the NHS, coupled with hardships inflicted by Covid-19, the government should be aware of the consequences of such huge pressures on staff. A survey conducted by the Nursing Times in January 2021 suggested that 86% of nurses who had worked shifts in recent months felt that hospitalised patients were at risk due to staff shortages. Responders described themselves as exhausted, “on their knees”, working to care for Covid-19 patients. A quarter of them had been off due to stress and fatigue while 35% because of Covid-19 fears and the need to self-isolate.

NHS Officials Warned Government About Exhausted Staff

Jeremy Hunt, a former health secretary, has told the British Medical Journal that he regretted not employing more nurses and doctors during his time in charge of the NHS. Mr Hunt, who served at the Health Department from 2012 to 2018, told the journal that the NHS employment system needs urgent reform and the government should publish figures for its requirements every year. He emphasised that if they do not plan for the NHS staff strategically, the system will have to spend more to recruit more expensive doctors and nurses. Jeremy Hunt reminded that the government has not learned from other outbreaks such as SARS and MERS. He believes that the government made the pandemic worse and  supported the call for a public inquiry into its handling of the pandemic once it was under control.



Hunt Says the UK Government Made the Pandemic Worse

At a current online event held by the Royal College of Anaesthetists, England’s national medical director asked all colleagues to collectively solve anxiety and exhaustion issues among doctors caused by the pandemic. Also, NHS leaders have warned that the health service has been hugely disrupted by the pandemic and needs to reset together with its staff for their usual, post-pandemic work. A brief survey by the Royal College of Anaesthetics demonstrates stress and exhaustion among the staffs during the pandemic, while nothing has been done to alleviate it. The pressures were so tough on some health workforces that it led them to think about abandoning their job. The president of the Royal College emphasised that the government should think of building a health service which is fit for what lays ahead, otherwise it will face many shortcomings in the future.

NHS Leaders Asked for Re-Adjustment for the NHS and its Staff

During the fight against the pandemic over the past year, UK healthcare workers have been on the frontline of the struggle, suffering huge stress, anxiety, exhaustion, shortages, long working hours, etc. The UK Government has not done enough to address the problems or reduce the pressures. A petition was started, asking parliament to hold an inquiry on the matter once the pandemic was under control. The petition was started on the UK Parliament website to hold a public inquiry into the government’s handling of the Covid-19 crisis. It was started to evaluate the government’s work “for protection of the UK population and how this was balanced with the level of healthcare services”. When the doctors and nurses feel stressed at work, it is troublesome for their patients and for the country and will incur more costs on the nation. NHS leaders warned the government about exhaustion among healthcare staff and asked for a reset of the system and workforce to improve services as the pandemic continues.

Latest news

Related news


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here