Fears 'stressed and burnt out' staff are quitting jobs at Suffolk hospitals

Routine blood tests have been cancelled at Ipswich Hospital, Colchester Hospital and West Suffolk Hospital as a result of...

Hundreds of staff left Ipswich, Colchester and West Suffolk's hospitals giving no reason. - Credit: Archant

Nurses are suffering "stress and burnout" at Suffolk hospitals, with hundreds of healthcare workers quitting their roles for 'unknown' reasons.

In total, 126 clerical workers, 145 healthcare assistants and 125 staff nurses resigned from Ipswich and Colchester Hospitals, run by East Suffolk and North Essex NHS Trust, between 2018 and 2021 giving "other or not known" for their reason for leaving.

Between 2015 and 2021, 400 clinical workers, 284 admin staff, 110 medical and dental workers and 329 nurses and midwives resigned from West Suffolk NHS Trust while giving no specific reason for their departure.

So far this year 718 staff as ESNEFT have resigned, compared to 771 for the whole of last year. This was down from 855 in 2019.

At West Suffolk, there had been 210 resignations up to the end of August, compared to 239 last year and 254 in 2019.

Royal College of Nursing (RCN) eastern regional director Teresa Budrey said the Covid pandemic has intensified "stress and burnout" felt by healthcare professionals. 

“Staff are leaving to pursue other, less stressful careers or choosing to retire earlier than they may have planned," she added. 

Teresa Budrey, eastern regional director of the Royal College of Nursing. Picture: RCN

Teresa Budrey, eastern regional director of the Royal College of Nursing. Picture: RCN - Credit: Archant

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“Nursing pay has fallen far below inflation and staff are not receiving a wage which reflects their skills and responsibilities, which means that many are looking for opportunities away from the NHS where pay is higher.

“Obviously many of the staff leaving their job may be retiring and returning on a part-time basis, or leaving to pursue training opportunities which will bring them back into health care in future. But employers and politicians need to understand all the factors that are involved in the decision to leave a profession in dire need of staff.”

Kate Read, director of people and organisational development at East Suffolk and North Essex NHS Foundation Trust (ESNEFT), said staff do not have to explain to the NHS why they want to leave but acknowledged Covid-19 has had a "huge impact" on staff. 

“We have recruited two new retention partners at the trust to help improve the experience of our staff and to encourage people to stay once they have joined us," Ms Read added.

"They are working with our teams to offer dedicated support to new recruits, highlight career progression opportunities, access to our health and wellbeing services and they are holding staff experience clinics to find out what’s working well and where there’s room for improvement too.”

A spokesman for West Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust said: "Unknown means the reason for the staff member's departure is not recorded in our system; we’re unable to speculate as to what the reason might have been.

"The WSFT is a large organisation with a high number of staff and there is always going to be a certain amount of staff turnover. The figures for 2020 and 2021 so far are similar to those pre-pandemic."