The health of NHS frontline staff is becoming a concern as many are either falling critically unwell with COVID-19 or becoming mentally ill from their experiences.
Top bosses from the health service say the number of healthcare workers who are seriously ill with coronavirus has reached crisis levels.
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Dr Chaand Nagpaul, chair of the British Medical Association (BMA) has written to the organisation’s members.
He wrote: “There are over 46,000 hospital staff off sick with COVID-19 heaping additional pressure on an already overstretched workforce struggling to manage even current critical care demand.”
Calling for all medical staff to be vaccinated against the virus as soon as possible in a bid to keep the health service moving, he said: “It is only if the NHS workforce is kept fit and well that we will be able to meet the unprecedented surge in demand that the coming weeks and months will bring as well as delivering the vaccine programme that remains our only hope to end this dreadful pandemic.”
Meanwhile, the mental health of staff has also raised alarm as the BMA has also unveiled that the number of doctors who have sought psychiatric help since the pandemic began has doubled.
Speaking to the Independent newspaper, Dr David Wrigley, wellbeing lead and deputy chair of the BMA, said that frontline doctors and nurses are being left feeling “physically and mentally scarred” because of what they have been forced to experience during the COVID-19 battle and that he believes they will “struggle to get back to the normal way of life” once the pandemic has passed.
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Since November, a total of 371 doctors have accessed the BMA’s mental health helpline, which is a 47.8% increase when compared with the same time the year before. In December 2018, just 132 calls were made to the helpline.
Meanwhile, research carried out by King’s College London has shown more than one in eight respondents (13%) of a mental health survey among health workers have thought of suicide or hurting themselves in the previous two weeks.
Study lead professor Neil Greenberg said: “The severity of symptoms we identified are highly likely to impair some ICU staffs ability to provide high quality care as well as negatively impacting on their quality of life.”