Mental and physical toll working through a pandemic

We are alarmed at growing evidence of an acceleration in the physical and mental toll members are experiencing as they work through the pandemic.

Alongside the growing mental and physical toll of the pandemic is something we continue to witness, employers propose gratuitous organisational changes and in one particularly egregious case, pursuing forced redundancies of our members. The pandemic has clearly increased the levels of stress and fatigue being experienced by members working in understaffed and highly stressed workplaces.

There are also the threats to your mental and physical health from working at the frontlines of the pandemic.

Your mental health is not helped when it is ignored in your workplace; and you’re expected to suck it up and get on with it. Despite the recent efforts by the government to give mental health greater consideration in the workplace, we are not yet seeing this level of care demonstrated by employers in the workplace.

We all want to do our bit to ensure we get through this pandemic and lockdowns. We know that you want to make sure you’re doing as much as you can and supporting your colleagues. But we also know that doing your bit includes ensuring you’re rested and prepared for the next shift.

Unless you’re rested, you’re more likely to make mistakes, which all too often will be used against you if there are performance or disciplinary matters that come up. We know the pandemic is putting you under more stress than usual and this puts you at greater risk of being fatigued and unwell, and of making mistakes.

It doesn’t help any patient if you’re doing your work stressed and/or fatigued because of staff shortages and huge workloads.

That’s why it’s never been more important to say, “no pay, no way”. Please make sure you report to us when there are positions not being backfilled or when there are vacancies due to leave arrangements or they just haven’t been filled.

It is unacceptable to expect you to do more work when workloads are very high, especially during a pandemic, at a time employers should be employing more staff to resolve unsustainable workloads, back fill leave and fill vacancies.

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