25% of pharmacists report being stressed at work compared to previous years- This statistic comes from the Pharmacy Magazine's findings across a few years investigating. According to the BMJ (the British medical journal) staff burnout in England has reached an ‘emergency level’ affecting the future of the NHS in terms of functioning services, so much so that parliament has also been involved. Report from the House of Commons stated that the main drivers for NHS burnout is ‘staff shortages, exhaustion at work and increased mental distance, negative feeling about the job and reduced professional effectiveness’ now posing a risk to current staff and the patients they care for.
We've previously written a blog about Pharmacists being stressed it's now shown that all NHS staff are feeling hugely pressured and unhappy in their job. There's many contributing factors to this, and Jodie Chaloner explains her personal experience whilst working at the NHS as a Clinical Coordinator and why she chose to change careers completely. The support readily available now to healthcare professionals is readily available. Jodie's experience was quite different and the support was simply not made apparent. Below We've brought together some helplines and charities who offer help to those in need of support in managing their mental health surrounding work.
Where to go if you are struggling
Pharmacist Support: A charity supporting pharmacists and their families, former pharmacists and pharmacy students. The charity now provides direct psychological support for those who are experiencing mental health issues, funding up to 12 counselling sessions. https://pharmacistsupport.org/
NHS mental health and wellbeing support: All NHS health and care staff in England can access mental health support via 40 staff mental health and wellbeing hubs around the country. All regulated health and social care professionals can access support in Scotland via the Workforce Specialist Service. The Health for Health Professionals Wales is a free mental health https://www.england.nhs.uk/supporting-our-nhs-people/support-now/staff-mental-health-and-wellbeing-hubs/support service for doctors that was expanded in April 2020 to provide support and advice for all frontline NHS Wales staff.
Helplines and free wellbeing apps: NHS England has introduced a confidential NHS staff support line, operated by the Samaritans, which is free to access from 07:00–23:00, seven days per week, on 0800 069 6222. Trained advisers can help with signposting and confidential listening. Support can also be accessed by texting FRONTLINE to 85258 for support 24/7. NHS staff have also been given free access to several wellbeing apps.
The National Wellbeing Helpline (0800 111 4191) in Scotland provides a compassionate listening service that is available 24/7 and can offer advice and signposting to local staff support services, when required. A National Wellbeing Hub also offers a broad range of advice and evidence-based digital resources to help staff with issues such as stress, anxiety, low mood, insomnia/poor sleep and resilience.
My Personal story- Jodie Chaloner:
‘After my mum was diagnosed with cancer several years ago and has made a full recovery, I’ve always thought I would dedicate my life to the NHS as my own personal thank you for saving my mother. I always saw the NHS as a dedicated taskforce that provided the best patient care worldwide, so I thought it was a given that the NHS would also protect and respect their staff also. That was until I started to work for the NHS myself as a clinical coordinator, Healthcare assistant and a Theatre Support Worker. Then I started to witness first-hand the cracks of staff retainment and the pressure they were under. Though management did its best using the limited resources they had to keep their staff happy, feeling secure in their job role and listened too, in my department they always seemed to miss the mark as more pressure was put on them to meet patient target numbers to keep the ‘higher ups’ happy.
I will never forget turning up to work in the hight of the pandemic and sitting in the carpark shaking, trying to hold back to tears of starting my shift. I was relocated to a ward (due to understaffing) and was asked to perform tasks that I was not qualified to do, on my feet for over 11 hours, having a to-do list longer than my arm, while trying to hold myself together for the patients under my care that were going through a tougher time than I was. I remember going through a 12 hour shift and realising that I hadn’t even at a toilet break yet – and I was 6 hours in.
Once the pandemic had started to ease I thought I would be able to breathe a sigh of relief and return to my old job in theatres. Yet, with patient lists stacking up and all the staff feeling the pressure to perform at their highest level with minimal support and resources from management (not even a pay rise), the negative feelings for the job came flooding back. I started to feel numb about my work and looking after patients, a role that I originally loved. I never thought I could fall out of love with a job like that, where I was given the honour to treat people during their scariest moments in their life. But I did and I felt the negative feelings start to consume me. Thankfully, I had the huge supports from friends and family that started to notice the change in me seeping into my personal life and told me that the best thing to do is to find a role that will ground me where I can grow more as a professional in a career where I would be more valued. I knew I had to make a change and leaving the NHS was bittersweet, on my last day I truly felt excluded as the other staff members whispered that I had turned my back on the NHS. I was given a cheap bottle of wine for my work and was thanked for my service a co-worker who had forgotten my last name. Now a month on in my new role I have never felt better, I feel valued in my role and supported by my colleagues and management. But I know that I was not alone in my feelings during my time in the NHS. Therefore I strongly support those who are seeking more guidance to contact the numerous free services out there than can provide professional advice when you need it.’
Here's Jodie looking super happy in her uniform ready to start her clinical career: