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13 October 2022

Report finds evidence of ongoing stress and burnout in the health and social care workforce

Survey and focus group data from summer 2022 also show an increase in negative coping strategies

Health and social care workers

The latest publication from the Health and Social Care Workforce Research Study reports on the quality of working life of Nurses, Midwives, Allied Health Professionals, Social Workers, and Social Care Workers across the UK between May and July 2022.

Jill Manthorpe, Director of the NIHR Policy Research Unit in Health and Social Care Workforce at King’s, is co-investigator on the project, which is led from Ulster University.

Drawing on survey and focus group data from the summer, this recently published report from Phase 5 of the project shows that, while much of the population had by this point returned to something akin to a normal life, these professionals were still caught up in health and safety restrictions while in work.

Moreover, in the words of the report: ‘There is compelling evidence that stress and burnout still affected many respondents at the time of the survey’. The authors also report an increase in negative coping strategies:

‘including venting (displays of anger) and substance use, in some cases an increase in incivility at work and tensions with co-workers and managers, as well as increasing unwillingness to go above and beyond. We also found that supports offered by employers were often not taken up, and we suggest that this is due to some staff not feeling the support on offer would be helpful to them, a feeling that they are rather tokenistic, and unwillingness to embark on ‘online’ support, perhaps because respondents did not have enough energy after a working day to take, say, a relaxation course.’ (page 2 of the report)

In light of these findings, the research team has compiled a set of Good Practice Recommendations under the following headings:

  • Changing conditions
  • Work-life balance
  • Connections
  • Communication

This is the final phase of work from the original research project, but with an extension secured, the team will be investigating how working conditions may change and affect the health and social care workforce over the coming winter (2022-23).

This publication

Gillen, P., McFadden, P., Moriarty, J., Mallett, J., Schroder, H., Ravalier, J., Manthorpe, J., Currie, D., Nicholl, P., McGrory, S., & Neill, R. (2022) Health and social care workers’ quality of working life and copingwhile working during the COVID-19 pandemic: Findings from a UK Survey & Focus Groups. Phase 5: 16th May 2022 – 8th July 2022. University of Ulster Press. [Executive Summary]

The project page details reports from all phases of this study, together with eight papers in peer-reviewed journals.

In this story

Jill Manthorpe

Professor Emerita of Social Work