As 2022 slides into history, we give thanks to many people for their contributions to our comfort, welfare and enjoyment, and not least to the health care workers who we older folks tend to see rather often. Personally, we are fortunate so far to have dodged serious bullets, and have excellent care when needed, but in meetings with ex-colleagues and nurses, we have been made acutely aware of the extra strains that the last few years have imposed.
I take the liberty of quoting from a recent article from the esteemed New England Journal of Medicine by Dr Vivek Murthy (https://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMp2207252)
“Early in the Covid-19 pandemic, when much of U.S. society shut down, health workers put their own safety on the line and kept going to work to care for patients. Although their communities initially banged on pots, cheered from their balconies, and put up thank-you signs, the pots have long since stopped clanging. Expressions of gratitude have too often been replaced by hostility, anger, and even death threats toward health workers, as health misinformation has exploded, eroding trust in science and public health experts. Yet doctors, nurses, pharmacists, social workers, respiratory therapists, hospital security officers, and staff members of health care and public health organizations continue showing up to battle the pandemic and its sequelae — long Covid, mental health strain, widening health disparities, and 2 years’ worth of deferred care for myriad conditions.
The toll on our health workers is alarming. Thousands of them have died from Covid. More than half of health workers report symptoms of burnout, and many are contending with insomnia, depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, or other mental health challenges.
Some 52% of nurses (according to the American Nurses Foundation) and 20% of doctors (Mayo Clinic Proceedings) say they are planning to leave their clinical practice. Health worker burnout is a serious threat to the nation’s health and economic security”.
If the situation in USA is that bad, we can only imagine the impact on those working elsewhere with far fewer resources.
Here I must declare an interest, maybe not a conflict, even potentially something helpful. I am a partner in a company called SE HealthCare which developes and provides tools to improve the quality and efficiency of care. Our latest iteration is a Burnout Prevention Program for physicians and nurses, which is becoming popular. The American Nursing association has just agreed to provide the program to all of their 170,000 members.
Check out https://www.sehealthcaresolutions.com
All part of life’s rich tapestry
Happy New Year……