Joan Pons Laplana was fatigued from working long shifts in intensive care and the fear of contracting COVID and passing it on to his wife and children.
«I was all over the place at the conclusion of the second wave. I experienced nightmares and panic attacks. Suicidal thoughts, mood swings, and irritability began to plague me «According to AFP, he said.
«My personal life was in shambles.»
Even before the global health crisis, Laplana, a 46-year-old Catalan from Chesterfield, northern England, had experienced burnout.
However, he was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder as a result of the high job pressure, and he was obliged to leave as a nurse to preserve his mental health, joining tens of thousands of other health workers who had resigned during the pandemic.
«I witnessed a patient my age with a kid my daughter’s age,» he remarked, recounting how the girl bid farewell to her father on an electronic tablet just before he died.
«I started having nightmares about seeing the father’s eyes.»
Laplana isn’t the only one.
As Europe faced mounting COVID cases in 2020, concerns about the pandemic’s emotional and psychological impact on frontline doctors were already being raised.
In the United Kingdom, the constant pressure has resulted in a staff exodus: 33,000 personnel left the government-run National Health Service (NHS) in the third quarter of last year.
When compared to the final quarter of 2019, shortly before the coronavirus arrived in the UK, this was nearly twice.
Nearly 7,000 people resigned in the third quarter of 2021, according to official statistics, citing a desire for a better work-life balance.
Long shifts are common.
Akshay Akulwar has not yet resigned, but he has considered migrating abroad, either to New Zealand or Australia, where incomes are greater or to India, where he was born.
Long hours, according to the surgeon, who works in eastern England and is a spokeswoman for the Doctors’ Association the UK, damage well-being, personal and family life.
He’s been on call, working night shifts, and putting in more hours than ever before because of the pandemic, he added.
«Burnout sets in gradually, and you begin to operate less effectively. You can only maintain this level of activity for so long, «he stated
More than two-thirds of medical workers experienced burnout during the epidemic, according to the public sector union Unison, and more than half worked over their contractual hours.
As a result, more than half of the workforce in the sector is looking for work, exacerbating recruitment issues brought on by retirement, Brexit, and new immigration laws.
The staff has been «wrung dry by pandemic pressures,» according to Sara Gorton, Unison’s head of health, as they cover for unwell colleagues and feel bad about not giving adequate treatment.
«Before the coronavirus, the NHS already had a staffing shortage of almost 100,000 people. The pandemic has put a lot of pressure on health workers, and many of them have had enough «she continued.
Soldiers were sent in to aid at British hospitals and ambulance services due to staff shortages caused by the fast spread of the Omicron type of coronavirus.
NHS employees felt a «professional obligation» to stay on after the first year of the pandemic, according to Bill Palmer of the Nuffield Trust health sector think-tank.
There has been a growing tendency of employees abandoning their jobs between 2016 and the outbreak’s start. After a brief respite, resignations are once again on the rise, he added.
‘Like a number,’ says the narrator
With the pandemic causing a large backlog in treatment and surgeries, the government is grappling with how to fill the voids left by staff departures in the NHS.
According to the Nursing and Midwifery Council, there were 8,000 fewer nurses from European Economic Area countries in a year than in 2016.
More than half of EU nurses who left the country mentioned the UK’s exit from the EU as a factor in their decision.
Recruiting medical and social care professionals from outside the UK is also difficult, with post-Brexit immigration laws proving to be a roadblock.
Lower-paid, non-medical NHS workers are attracted to higher-paying jobs in other industries.
Alex, who did not want to be identified by his full name, said he left his job as a community mental health nurse in northwest England because he was «treated like a number rather than an individual.»
His workload grew by 25%, but his salary did not reflect the increased duties, thus impacting his mental health.
He currently works with modern-day slaves and victims of domestic violence.
«I make the same amount of money, but I have less stress and work,» he explained. «I have a sense of being supported.»