Wednesday 30 December 2020 / 10:30 PM Jonathan Ashworth

Labour analysis reveals NHS staff were working more than 1.1 million hours of unpaid overtime every week even before Covid-19

Labour analysis reveals NHS staff were working more than 1.1 million hours of unpaid overtime every week even before Covid-19

New figures published today shows that NHS staff worked a huge 1.1 million hours of unpaid overtime every week before the pandemic struck.

New Labour Party analysis of official 2019 NHS staff survey data raises fresh fears for the wellbeing of staff, who are facing the devastating force of the pandemic for a second time. It shows the enormous pressure NHS staff were already under before Covid-19, with more than 40 per cent of staff saying they had felt unwell due to work related stress.

The most recent NHS Staff Survey shows that before the pandemic over 300,000 NHS staff said they worked extra hours for free every week – at an average of 2.2 hours a week. Almost half of NHS staff said their organisation didn’t have enough staff for them to do their job properly.

Doctors and dentists between them worked over 133,000 hours a week (average 3.3), allied health professionals and scientific staff like laboratory technicians worked 231,000 (average 2.1), and nurses and midwives worked nearly 442,000 (average 3.0)

The survey was completed by 48 per cent of the NHS’s million strong workforce, meaning the true total of unpaid overtime could be even higher.

Labour Party analysis of NHS workforce figures also found that staff numbers in NHS hospitals and community health services have fallen after a peak in the spring, when students and retirees joined the fight against the first wave.

The figures lead to fears that further shortages will hit just as the NHS goes into a tough winter combined with a Covid-19 second wave.

Jonathan Ashworth, Labour’s Shadow Health and Social Care Secretary, said:

“NHS staff were already bearing the brunt of nearly a decade of underfunding, cuts and a huge shortage of staff before the pandemic hit.

“The country is in their debt after their astounding sacrifice and commitment during the first wave. But now, with what’s likely to be the toughest winter ever seen in the NHS, they are being asked to give even more.

“The government has shown a lack of care for NHS staff throughout. Frontline staff were left for too long without adequate PPE and it took eight months to arrange regular testing.

“It’s urgent that the government recruit and train the staff the NHS needs. They also need to do more to support NHS staff facing the crisis in the here and now. Clapping was not enough. Staff deserve decent pay as well.”