With our Emergency Appeal in full swing and our team working endlessly to support healthcare workers to meet the demands that the second lockdown in the UK has brought on now, as well as the more entrenched, longer-term impacts on our health service, we take some time out to hear from our CEO, Steve Crump, as he drives the strategic direction of the Healthcare Workers’ Foundation forwards.
Vaccine or no vaccine, the next two years threaten to be a catastrophic period for the NHS and healthcare workers in the UK, with the impact of COVID-19 reaping a far deeper, long-lasting and devastating impact than many of us might imagine.
As Chief Executive of the newly named Healthcare Workers’ Foundation I have a personal and vested interest in our emergency appeal. I am, like many others, an existing consumer of healthcare services. GP services when I’m taken unwell and should I or my family need it, access to other services, for example, hospital referral. Consequently, I want the healthcare professionals that might be looking after me to be the best they can be – resourced and supported so that they can deliver quality healthcare.
However, sadly, this isn’t the case. What we have is a healthcare workforce in crisis - under pressure and stretched. And this was before COVID-19 pandemic. What we’re now seeing is an NHS that reports ‘92% of trusts were concerned about burnout among their staff’. Burnout that will obviously lead to healthcare professionals leaving the service with all the resultant challenges such an exodus will bring – increased pressures on those that remain, a reduction in services, increased waiting times, increased spending on locums.
I’m not having that. I want a workforce supported capable and resilient which is where the incredible work of the Healthcare Workers’ Foundation (HWF) comes in. Founded by doctors for doctors and the wider healthcare workforce, the HWF is fast establishing itself as the UK’s leading provider of wellbeing and welfare support to the NHS. Delivering, since April, more than 550,000 units of face coverings and PPE to front line staff, investing more than £350,000 in the development of sustainable reusable PPE, granting more than £150,000 in child care support to staff across the NHS.
As we enter into a second lockdown, our emergency appeal is aimed at raising valuable funds enabling the HWF to continue this vital work and to develop a range of all new and service-user led interventions aimed at addressing the welfare and wellbeing needs of the workforce and, thereby, reducing the risk of burnout and loss to the NHS.
But there’s more, in addition, we’ll be working to build a robust, agile and forward looking organisation that is able to respond to the long term wellbeing and welfare needs of healthcare workers – not just those in the NHS, but ALL, whether they be in care homes, nursing care or hospices; from clinical consultant to porter – we’ll be there, helping them to help us.