A new survey of almost 2,000 nurses and midwives in Ireland has identified a significant level of burnout in the sector.
The ‘Psychological Impact of COVID-19 on Nurses and Midwives in Ireland survey’ was carried out between April and July 2021 and aimed to gain an understanding of the psychological impact of Covid-19 on nurses and midwives in Ireland.
More than 1,900 nurses and midwives responded to the survey.
It found that 85 per cent of respondents believed their experience of Covid-19 had a negative psychological impact on them and 97 per cent believed it had a negative psychological impact on their colleagues.
Some 91 per cent said they felt mentally exhausted when off duty with 68 per cent saying they considered leaving the profession.
Over 90 per cent of those surveyed said they at least sometimes felt mentally exhausted at work and after work.
INMO Head of Education and Professional Development, Steve Pitman said the survey “paints a bleak picture” of how emotionally and physically taxing Covid-19 has been on nurses and midwives right across the country.
“62% of the members who responded to the survey indicated that they had cared for patients that died as a result of Covid-19, and while nurses and midwives deal with and care for dying patients normally, the level of death in this short period far exceeded previous levels in circumstances that were far from ideal in many instances.
“Nurses and midwives have faced an unprecedented increase in workload demands resulting directly or indirectly from the pandemic. Coupled with caring for patients with the virus, witnessing the physical and emotional effects on patients, families and loved ones has taken a psychological toll. The vast majority of our members are now telling us they’re mentally and emotionally exhausted, and this is going to have an impact on their safety and the safety of their patients,” he said.
Mr Pitman said that the INMO has provided mental health supports for members through an online digital mental health support hub, free counselling help line and emergency funding through the INMO benevolent fund, but, he said the State must provide more practical resources and mental health supports for nurses and midwives.
INMO General Secretary, Phil Ní Sheaghdha added: “We can’t ignore the fact that two-thirds of nurses and midwives tell us they considered leaving the profession due to the impact of Covid-19.
“We have to make sure that the predictions in this survey do not become a reality. We must immediately put measures in place to support our workforce. Recovery must be a national priority, as this workforce make up a third of the total workforce.” Ms Ní Sheaghdha said that planned funding for the implementation of safe staffing across the health service, and measures to reduce pressure on hospitals must be put in place over the coming weeks.
“Next week’s Budget and the subsequent HSE Winter Plan must make it clear how the Government plans to ensure that safe staffing is a priority,” she said.
The call to action comes at a time when the INMO is also voicing concerns over the current level of overcrowding at hospitals.
On Thursday morning, 451 admitted patients were waiting for beds at hospitals around the country.
This included more than 50 patients in Cork- 40 at Cork University Hospital, eight at the Mercy University Hospital and three at Bantry General Hospital.