OVER half of NHS workers in the South East said they have considered leaving the NHS over the past 12 months.

Charity Healthcare Workers’ Foundation and partner, NHS Million, reveals nearly half of healthcare workers would not recommend joining the NHS and 73% surveyed reported they have considered leaving in the last 12 months. With 42% of those surveyed said they would not recommend joining the NHS to other people.

Whilst coverage around NHS backlogs, pay rises and taxes continue to dominate headlines, the findings of the survey shed light on a possible ‘great resignation’ within the UK’s healthcare system should fundamental – yet simple – issues remain unchanged.

As a team of practising healthcare professionals who have witnessed the outcry for better staff rooms, ‘HWF Rooms’ has been piloted across hospitals and trusts with the aim of boosting on-site well-being, ultimately avoiding further risks to resignation levels and the impact this has on the UK’s economy.

The recent research - which surveyed healthcare workers and NHS staff across England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland – has uncovered the staggering sentiment of healthcare workers. A summary of the findings reveals:

  • 73% of healthcare workers surveyed reported they have considered leaving in the last 12 months, and of this, 34% of staff also report having no access to staff rooms or rest spaces – specific mention of these desired spaces has been shared by healthcare workers following the survey
  • Regions most at risk of resignations include southern England, with healthcare workers in Greater London, the South East and South West most likely to resign
  • 31% of clinical patient-facing staff confirmed they are likely to leave the NHS within the next 12 months
  • Nearly half of respondents reported they would not recommend joining the NHS
  • All job titles and roles reported feeling under pressure to work while unwell, with clinical patient-facing staff reporting the highest levels of pressure (69%)
  • Contrary to news reports, when asked what the most important factor of considering a future in the NHS, 99% of respondents reported ‘job satisfaction’ followed by ‘work environment’ and ‘pay’, respectively.

Dr Dominic Pimenta, co-founder and chairman of the Healthcare Workers’ Foundation said: “These findings will come as no surprise to anyone who has ever worked in the NHS, but we hope facilitating communication about this vital topic between the public and trusts will enable everyone to realise we are still not meeting the basic needs of our healthcare workers.

“The moral case for improving working conditions for healthcare workers is very clear, but what this survey highlights is the economic case. With one in three staff surveyed considering leaving the NHS in the next 12 months, spending a little to improve conditions now will help save £billions in the future, and the time to act is now.”

Joseph Blunden, founder of NHS Million, said: “Trusts across the country have an endless list of priorities so it’s understandable that these kinds of facilities haven’t been at the top of their agendas. We are here to work with them to transform these spaces and provide healthcare workers with new and improved rooms so they can perform at their peak. We are really excited to work more closely with trusts to deliver this important initiative where there is clearly strong interest from those on the frontlines.”

Samantha Batt-Rawden, ICU Doctor at Royal Sussex County Hospital said: “We could not be more grateful to the Healthcare Workers’ Foundation for giving us a much-needed grant to renovate both our staff room and the on-call room for ICU. Before doctors had nowhere to rest overnight, much less get their heads down before the drive home. As the tertiary centre many doctors are placed here from all over the deanery, meaning some are commuting over three hours a day.

“Being able to have a nap before the drive and get a proper coffee has made all the difference. The last 18 months have been tough on all of us, particularly spending hours in PPE without a place to have a proper break. Now we have a calming, restful environment where staff can relax and feel more restored before returning to their shift. It really has meant the world to us.”

HWF relies on community donations to support the work they’re dedicated to delivering for healthcare workers. To support the further deployment of ‘HWF Rooms’, the public can donate through the Crowdfunder here or text HWF to 70085 to give as little as £3 a month.