'You can't pour from an empty cup' - why we need to support our healthcare professionals' health

30 Jan 2023

Our healthcare professionals play a vital role in supporting the physical, mental and emotional health of our nation and with the rising incidence of a range of long term conditions, this is increasingly needed. But who is supporting their health?

The scale of the challenge

According to the British Medical Association, the NHS is experiencing some of the most severe pressures in its 70-year history, and around one in three physicians is experiencing burnout at any given time' (De Hert, 2020). Even pre-pandemic, levels of burnout were high, with up to 70% of nurses (Lyndon 2016) and 50% of physicians experiencing it (Lyndon 2015).

Over the past four years, rates of sickness absences have risen steadily in the NHS, reaching their highest ever levels in January 2022. The most reported reasons for sickness absence across all staff groups are anxiety, stress, depression and other psychiatric illnesses - and in April 2022 alone, accounted for more than 463,000 full-time equivalent days lost (CQC 2022)

There is a direct association between burnout and quality of life (Khatatbeh 2022), whilst reviews into nurse burnout have found association with worsening safety and quality of care for patients, decreased patient satisfaction, as well as nurses' organisational commitment and productivity (Jun 2021, Garcia 2019).

How we are helping

The majority of advice on preventing or addressing burnout centre around building positive health and wellbeing habits back into life - from prioritising sleep and self-care, to investing in relationships or a hobby, a bit at a time.

We are developing a free online course to support healthcare professionals with tools and practical ideas to help them prioritise their own health and wellbeing. Available as a pick n' mix of different health topics from movement and nutrition to sleep and relationships, each topic contains up to three six-minute videos on how that 'pillar' of health impacts your wellness and some practical ideas towards making changes.

Each topic will also have a wide variety of resources and links for further information and articles, podcasts and books, as well as tailored information for specific health conditions or stages of life.

It is not only the health service experiencing this challenge - a 2020 YouGov survey for Mental Health UK found 1 in 5 people felt unable to manage pressure and stress levels at work, whilst a survey of 3,000 UK workers found 88% had experienced burnout since 2020 (LumApps 2022).

Whilst this course is aimed at healthcare professionals, the content and all the resources will be freely available to anyone who wants to access them, whilst we hope some of the information shared will trickle down to patients via their professionals, too.

Information and support right now

The new health and wellbeing course will be available in late Spring, but in the meantime, here are some resources which might be helpful:

NHS-provided support for healthcare workers including Staff support and a helpline

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