“The lack of staff is the reason so many nurses feel depressed”

The NHS staff have tackled a number of disputes over the years sadly, a common issue the staff are facing is extreme pressure due to being consistently overworked due to lack of staff available. The last headcount was in 2017 which indicated the NHS has 1.5 million employees, 287,100 full-time equivalent nurses and health visitors working in hospitals and community health services in NHS. However, these numbers are not enough.

Romy Baker, 24, full time qualified NHS nurse Kent, discusses her reasoning as to why she believes the NHS is understaffed, she says: “There has been a drastic change of the numbers of nurses leaving the profession (due to stress) and due to the bursary being withdrawn for new nursing/midwifery students studying for their degree; applicants are down roughly 40% which is the lowest it has been for years, because students are unable to afford the course.

Romy Baker


A job role that is seen as extremely important is unable to develop and better due to the complaints from the staff as well as the patients.”

Lois Fishlock, a qualified Canterbury Nurse has worked within the NHS for 9 years now. She is one of many nurses who have faced issues within their employment.  She said: “I worked as a district nurse for almost three years and in that short time, the staffing levels dropped and my workload became unsafe. During the years that I have been qualified, I have never come across a consistently, adequately staffed ward or community team.”

This has had a dramatic effect on the staff working, due to the nurses having to work longer hours in extreme pressures.  Lois says: “If I come into work and the shift isn’t staffed as it should be and if I am the most senior staff nurse on duty, I am often left in charge and this can be stressful. I would come into work and ascertain who was in charge, quite often it was me. I was then left holding the team phone, where urgent referrals from patients would come in, along with staff members calling in sick etc.

I would then feel responsible for a large caseload in my area and this put a huge amount of pressure on me.”


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Romy adds to this: ” Everyday is different but generally most aspects of the job are pretty stressful. Nurses are always accountable, and with that comes so much responsibility and the fear of missing something or making a mistake. On the ward, 1 nurse can be allocated up to 5 patients to care for over their 12.5 hour shift, which leaves you extremely busy and stretched. Staffing is obviously a massive issue, and if improved would help. I think the lack of staff is the reason so many nurses feel depressed and vulnerable, this job really takes a toll on you.”

Like many work organisations there is normally a support group or system to help employees. The NHS have a support system to in hope, help and support the staff.

Lois says: “In my current role in the hospital there are ‘mental health champions’ – who support their own staff on their wards with mental first aid and sign posting. I’ll be honest, there is still so much stigma around expressing how we feel in the working environment. I think we spend so much time and energy giving to our patients, people forget to ask if their colleagues are ok.

“The conversations are changing slowly but even when I mentioned the new role of mental health champions to my ward manager, she asked ‘why would we need such a thing?’. Whilst I was working in the community, they had no provisions for supporting mental health and the lack of training within the management roles was very poor.” The worrying stigma is something we should encourage to change, to ensure the patients and the staff are experiencing a mentally satisfying experience.”


St. Barts NHS Strike for Fair Pay | by War on Want


Many complaints over time have occurred due to suicide cases which leaves the public eager to know how the Government seeks to help the NHS staff. The current  nurses are desperate to offer advice to the Government to decrease the mental health issues within the work place.

Lois says:” The government could put in place adequate and mandatory training for health professionals, particularly line managers to recognise the early signs of mental health issues within teams.  Funding bursaries again for nurses to be able to afford to train would be a huge help.  When you’re a student nurse, it is so hard to juggle part time work and give sufficient effort in your studies and placements on the wards.

Without bursaries, student nurses are forced to work and then they burn out before they have even qualified. The rate of people applying to study nursing is falling dramatically and if we cannot recruit new nurses, the pressure is even greater for our current nurses.”

Junior Doctors Strike Picket outside Norfolk Flickr


The public are always keen to support the NHS staff by, protesting regarding their pay and extreme working hours.

Lois adds: “From a personal perspective, I felt very low during my period of poor mental health and had 7 months off work because of severe depression and anxiety; it was all work related. I felt inadequate because the work overload was so enormous that you cannot possibly provide a good level of care to all of your patients. This makes you feel unworthy.

Stressful days at work lead to poor sleep, poor nutrition, low moods and poor relationships with loved ones.  We do have ‘Speak Up’ – a service where you can anonymously report a concern but when I did this, the information I had to pass over about the person I was bullied by was so individual that it was obvious I was the person reporting. The outcome of my ‘whistle blowing’ was that the person got away with accessing my personal medical records despite the evidence and the promise of an investigation.”

More can be done to help the NHS staff, and more should be done to ensure their mental health is stable.