Nurses are skipping meals to feed and clothe their children, and staff are finding it hard to make the journey to work because of rising living costs, according to a survey.
A poll of NHS trusts by NHS Providers has found that every trust surveyed reported concerns about the mental, physical and financial wellbeing of staff as a result of the cost of living.
More than half (54%) of NHS trusts responded to the survey, covering every region of England. More than six out of 10 (61%) of trust leaders reported a rise in mental health sickness absence.
The vast majority (81%) said they were “moderately or extremely” concerned about the physical health of their staff. Nearly three-quarters (72%) said they have seen more people coming to mental health services because of stress, debt and poverty.
Half (51%) said they have seen an increase in safeguarding concerns as a result of people’s living conditions. The survey also found that 71% of trust leaders reported many staff are struggling to afford to travel to work.
More than two-thirds (69%) said the cost of living is having a “significant or severe” impact on their ability to recruit lower-paid roles such as porters and healthcare assistants.
Cost of living crisis
Food banks and debt counselling were among the ways trusts were helping staff to cope with financial hardship, NHS Providers also pointed out.
Miriam Deakin, interim deputy chief executive and director of policy and strategy at NHS Providers, said: “The rising cost of living is harming people’s health and widening health inequalities. Our survey reveals just what NHS staff are going through, on top of the psychological impact of the pandemic and high levels of work-related stress.
“We need realism from government and national leaders, and recognition of the scale of the challenge. The rising cost of living is adding to pressures as the NHS seeks to reduce care backlogs and trust leaders fear it will have long lasting impacts on the health of the most deprived communities.”