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Female care workers reporting negative impact on their physical and emotional wellbeing

A survey by the NHS Confederation finds that the impact of the pandemic on the female workforce has demonstrably worsened wellbeing since last Summer.

07/05/21

Female care workers reporting negative impact on their physical and emotional wellbeing

Female care workers say their physical and emotional wellbeing has demonstrably worsened since last Summer as a result of the pandemic.

The findings are part of a survey by the NHS Confederation on how the impact of the pandemic on women working across health and care changed as the crisis progressed.

The report shows that, since Summer 2020, more than four in five female respondents reported that their job had a greater negative impact than usual on their emotional wellbeing as a result of the pandemic, with 65% saying their physical health had been negatively impacted.

This is linked to the increase in the number of hours women report spending on their caring responsibilities (both in and outside of work). The impact of these responsibilities may be greater for women from black, Asian, and minority ethnic backgrounds, the network says.

The network says this deterioration suggests support may be “insufficient or absent”, and also that the prolonged nature of the pandemic is taking a significant toll on care givers.

The survey also showed struggles with work-life balance continued. The average number of additional hours taken on each week of non-work caring responsibilities (compared with before the pandemic) rose by about 1.5 hours a week to an additional 12.81 hours. There was also an overall increase in the total number of hours spent each week on caring responsibilities outside of work, to 19.67 hours.

However, the findings of the survey also show improvement in some areas, including teamworking and increased feelings of camaraderie – but the NHS Confederation says the marked deterioration in the key areas of physical and emotional wellbeing cannot be ignored.

With 78% of the health and care workforce being female, the impact of the pandemic on women needs to be considered as part of overall recovery plans, the Confederation says.

Reacting to the findings, the network has warned that the health and care sector could see large numbers of staff choosing to leave their roles because of the “untenable pressure” under which they find themselves as a result of the pandemic.

They say the Government must commit to supporting the workforce not only through investment, but through initiatives tailored specifically to the needs of the female health and care workforce, given the impact COVID-19 has had on them.

“These findings show staff must have access to evidence-based support in a timely fashion, including in the longer term; it cannot be a short-term offer,” the report stated.

Samantha Allen, Chair of the NHS Confederation network has written to every chair, chief executive, integrated care service or primary care service lead across the NHS asking them to read the report and consider the recommendations.

“As the vast majority of the health and care workforce is female, the burden of overcoming these enormous challenges will mostly fall on the shoulders of women,” Allen said.

Read the full ‘COVID-19 and the female health and care workforce survey update’ report: https://www.nhsconfed.org/resources/2021/05/covid19-and-the-female-health-and-care-workforce-survey-update

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