The State of Mental Wellbeing on the Frontline – Striking the right balance

13 Oct 2021 Anne Marie Fogarty

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Over 50% of A&E nurses are found to put work demands before their own mental health, a new study reveals.


The old-fashioned attitude that nursing is a vocation has outdated itself. Yes, nursing is a unique role that requires care, compassion and dedication, but nurses are human too and increasing workloads will break the most devoted of carers if action is not taken rapidly.

Mental wellbeing on the frontline – the study

The 18-month long study followed 10,000 frontline emergency staff in the UK and found one of the driving factors behind the findings to be unsafe staffing conditions.

The findings concluded:

  • 10% of staff had suicidal thoughts
  • 45% of workers have felt panic or even terror
  • 49% felt traumatised by unwanted images and memories

The poor work-life balance for A&E nurses not only impacts their mental wellbeing but also their physical health. The study found that 61% feel tired a lot of the time, 33% find it difficult to focus and concentrate, and 32% reported frequent anxiety and depression symptoms. A massive 40% said their job often made them feel ill.

Yet, 92% of staff declared they are very proud of what they do,  90% were interested in finding solutions to the issues, and there appeared to be an optimistic view into the future. If the staff are supported and workloads managed better, then most A&E staff are both proud of and happy to continue their important roles.

It starts at the top

Good leadership needs to be underpinned by an understanding of the current issues. Managers who speak with the workers in A&E and read the data, have a better comprehension of the problems and are therefore in a better position to drive improvement.

Monitoring the workload, providing a supportive work culture, listening to the staff, open conversations around wellbeing and powerful policy implementation based on evidence to support wellbeing practices are essential to challenge the current pressures.

What’s the solution?

The RCN said chronic short-staffing was behind the crisis, contributing to a poor work-life balance for these specialist nurses.

In April 2020 Nursing Times launched its Covid-19: Are You OK? campaign to lobby for support. While this was a welcomed initiative, staffing shortages remains a high priority on the frontline.

A&E is a high pressure and challenging place to work, but our nurses need to feel supported with safe staffing, wellbeing policies that work and training around wellbeing for management and staff.

A good healthy work-life balance is essential to any wellbeing strategy in modern society. Flexibility, good rest and recovery time, stress management tools and support are crucial to the delivery of quality safe patient care. The flexible workforce solution provides that much needed support, flexibility and allows for a better work-life balance – after all, we should work to live not live to work.

With this week (11-15 October) being National Work-Life week, there couldn’t be a better time to contact us and discuss your options as an A&E healthcare professional.

Choose flexibility, quality of life and support – contact our experienced Consultants and they will guide you through from initial call right through to your final shift with us.

13 Oct 2021 | Leave a comment

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