Cuts to services are driving mental health staff to consider quitting their jobs, according to a survey by UNISON published today (Monday).
Employees also say they want to leave because it has become increasingly difficult to deliver the quality of care people need and deserve – and the work is affecting their own mental health.
These findings are based on a new survey, Mental Health Matters, of more than 600 employees across the UK who mainly work in the NHS.
They reveal budget squeezes that are pushing workers so close to the brink that many are seeking better-paid and less-stressful employment elsewhere, says UNISON.
The number one issue affecting the quality of support was the lack of staff, according to respondents, including those in adult community teams, learning disability services and in mental health units for children and adolescents.
The issue of job pressures faced by mental health staff and the numbers wanting to quit are being debated at UNISON’s annual health conference, which began in Bournemouth today.
Almost half (45%) of respondents to the survey said they were thinking about leaving. Cuts to services were given as the top reason (63%), because they made it harder for workers to do their jobs.
The next most cited reason was that staff felt unable to deliver high quality care (61%), followed by work having an impact on mental health (60%), a lack of support from managers (53%) and issues over pay.
The overwhelming issue affecting mental health provision was dwindling staff numbers (88%). Other top concerns were a lack of local services (67%), not enough mental health beds available for adults (64%) and long waiting lists (58%).
UNISON head of health Sara Gorton said: “Staff in mental health services are facing burnout as a result of years of underfunding.
“It’s no wonder so many are thinking of finding better-paid and less-stressful jobs elsewhere.
“If this situation continues, the NHS risks losing staff who are passionate about making a difference. What’s needed is proper investment so staff can deliver the quality of care to those in need.”
Notes to editors:
– The survey findings can be accessed here was carried out in December 2018 and received 643 responses from people working in the NHS (92%), for independent providers (5%), local authorities (1%), or for other employers (1%).
– Motions 17 and 18 relating to mental health workers were debated at UNISON’s annual health conference in Bournemouth.
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