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Nearly half of ICU medics ‘have mental health issues’

Feeling the strain: Staff on Covid-19 wards have post-traumatic stress disorder PICTURE: PA

ALMOST half of intensive care staff working during the pandemic are likely to be suffering from problem drinking, severe anxiety or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), a study finds.

Poor mental health was common among intensive care unit (ICU) staff, and was more pronounced in nurses than in doctors or health workers on the ward, according to King’s College London research.

Of the 709 healthcare workers from nine ICUs in England, 59 per cent reported their wellbeing as being good but 45 per cent met the threshold for problems. Among those struggling, 40 per cent had PTSD, six per cent had severe depression, 11 per cent reported severe anxiety and one in eight admitted having had thoughts of self-harm or suicide in the past two weeks.

Lead author Prof Neil Greenberg said: ‘The severity of symptoms we identified are highly likely to impair some ICU staff’s ability to provide high quality care.’ Stress is ‘negatively impacting on their quality of life’ and he called on managers to protect staff.

Dame Donna Kinnair, chief executive of the Royal College of Nursing, said: ‘The nurses I speak to every day tell me that they have no fuel left in the tank and their resilience is being seriously tested.’