HEALTHCARE leaders are seeing ‘higher levels of burnout’ leading to retirement among staff due to the pandemic, according to a new report.

Senior councillors on Barnsley’s overview and scrutiny committee are set to chew over the wide-ranging report on a recently-established ‘place-based partnership’ which sets out the scale of issues facing services in the borough.

The partnership - between Barnsley Clinical Commissioning Group, the council, NHS trusts, and voluntary services including Barnsley Hospice - will usher in a new statutory Integrated Care Board (ICB) in July and then a further Integrated Care Partnership (ICP) aimed at addressing ‘wider health, public health, and social care needs’ in September.

One of the most discussed issues affecting the care sector has been staffing - both retention and recruitment - which has caused knock-on effects, particularly to local mental health services.

The report said ‘close monitoring’ of staff was ongoing to understand their health and wellbeing needs, but that it was ‘important’ to continue paying attention to these amid the move to the new model.

“There are high levels of staff absence due to Covid and infection prevention and control measures continue to put additional strain on the workforce and estate,” it said.

“Employers across our health and care system are seeing higher levels of burnout and more colleagues accessing support services but more still who would benefit.

“Barnsley Hospital NHS Foundation Trust and South West Yorkshire Partnership Foundation Trust (SWYPFT) have reported higher numbers of staff retiring in the latter part of 2021/22.

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“In some cases, these are colleagues who have delayed retirement to support the pandemic response, but some retirements are reportedly because of burnout.

“Through the next stage it is important that organisations pay attention to how people are feeling, recovering, and responding to the next set of challenges.

“Close monitoring of staff turnover is taking place to develop appropriate plans to support retention and recruitment of staff and already positive work has taken place to support staff’s health and wellbeing including better access to support including counsellors.”

Speaking at the latest board meeting of SWPFT, chief operating officer Carol Harris said a number of targets for training are not being met.

Most notably, mandatory food safety training levels are rated ‘red’ at 67.7 per cent, while ‘amber’ ratings have been given for aggression management training, cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), information governance, local induction training and National Early Warning Score which rates response to clinical deterioration.

A report said ‘staffing capacity is the concern, rather than the availability of the training, with the exception of CPR training which will be impacted by both’.

Barnsley’s health and care system is in a ‘relatively good position’ compared to other areas, the new report states - with increased access to employee assistance, mental health support teams established in schools, and more mobilisation of neighbourhood teams cited as positives over the last year.

But greater competition for jobs is making it even harder to recruit into care roles, while government ‘winter access funding’ has been used to improve clinical and administration capacity in primary care settings - with it noted GPs have seen a five per cent increase in winter periods from 2021 to 2022.

Between November 2021 and January 2022, the report notes, there were 372,271 GP appointments - compared to 352,355 during the same three-month period a year prior.