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Unions demand ‘recovery road map’ for NHS workers

60 per cent of staff who contracted coronavirus said it had had a negative or severe impact on their mental health, GMB finds

THE government must provide a “recovery roadmap” for NHS workers, the GMB union has told the Prime Minister.

Ahead of Boris Johnson’s much-heralded “roadmap out of lockdown” speech today, the health workers’ union revealed that 60 per cent of staff who contracted coronavirus said it had had a negative or severe impact on their mental health. 

In a survey of more than 3,000 health workers in roles across the NHS, 30 per cent said they had caught the coronavirus, with almost 60 per cent saying they had passed it to a family member. 

Workers described experiencing seizures, shock, emotional damage and a lack of mental health support.

“Our NHS members are telling us about the terrible toll of working flat out on the front line during this pandemic and the severe impact catching Covid has on their mental health,” said GMB national officer Rachel Harrison.

“These are the people who have been saving lives throughout the pandemic. Now they need ministers to look after them. 

“Today, the Prime Minister unveils his roadmap out of lockdown. We call on him to outline a plan to help our beleaguered health workers recover from this pandemic.” 

The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) urged Mr Johnson not to “bow to political pressure only to pile it on health and care services instead.”

It said the government “must not relax public messaging or implement incentives for people to mix in groups,” and that “mixed messages” would result in “increased pressure on the health and care system.”

Nursing staff and others need rest and recuperation, including funded time out in addition to annual leave, as part of any “recovery and retention strategy” in healthcare.

“Exhausted staff must be supported to recover and pressure must abate further before we can enjoy the normality everybody craves,” said RCN general secretary and chief executive Dame Donna Kinnair.

The union said that staffing levels must return to pre-Covid levels as a minimum, particularly in areas such as intensive care “where ratios were diluted to unsafe levels.”

And it called for the focus “to move away from arbitrary targets and be driven by patient need and the ability to safely staff services.”

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