New analysis shows overstretched nurses and others are putting in £1.6bn worth of extra work
Staff put in £1.6billion worth of unpaid overtime a year to prevent the NHS collapsing, figures show.
NHS staff are putting in £1.6billion worth of unpaid overtime every year to prevent it from collapse, shock figures reveal.
A new data analysis shows overstretched nurses and others are each doing an average of 204 hours extra work a year because wards are dangerously short staffed.
TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady said: “The NHS is in a near-permanent crisis mode, thanks to years of underfunding. Patient safety is being put at risk.
“The only thing keeping the show on the road is the ridiculous amount of unpaid overtime that health workers are putting in.
“But goodwill only goes so far. The government should properly fund our NHS and give staff the resources they need to do the job.”
The new analysis shows 45% of NHS staff do end up doing an average of up to five hours of unpaid overtime every week.
A further 10% of health workers including paramedics, nurses, cleaners and porters put in up to 10 hours a week for free.
And 4% of staff do more than 11 hours of unpaid overtime every week.
The total amount of extra work is worth £1.6billion, according to the TUC.
Katie Gerrish, 24, a physiotherapist who works with stroke patients on the NHS in London, said: “My department has faced increasing pressures this winter. While the strain has been felt for several months now, last week was unprecedented.
“On Friday, nine acute stroke patients were denied their essential stroke rehabilitation, as a direct result of the therapy team facilitating other basic care tasks on the ward.
“The 24-bed stroke unit should be staffed by four registered nurses and three healthcare assistants, under safe staffing guidelines and taking into account the complexity of our patients. Instead, there were three registered nurses and two healthcare assistants.”
She added: “As a result, the therapy team assisted with, and carried out a number of tasks to ensure that our patients basic care needs were met, including washing, changing the sheets, toileting and addressing personal hygiene needs, as well as delivering and feeding patients their lunches.
“After doing this, therapists were urged to leave patients in their beds rather than get them to sit in their chairs. This was because there were simply not enough staff to get them back into bed. These examples are rare occurrences, but they are becoming the norm.
“Due to our dedication to patient care and the strength of our team focus, we are of course happy to “pitch-in” to ensure that basic health and care needs are met.
“That can mean extra unpaid hours too, and even less time to spend at home. Each member of the team regularly stays behind late, unpaid, to finish work that has been put aside due to other pressures.
“The additional strain of this unpaid overtime, on top of weekend working and on call shifts, really places a burden on work-life balance.
“But without adequate staffing levels to provide sufficient rehabilitation, patients will not regain their physical and mental functions.”
The new figures come after the TUC and other unions joined forces to make a desperate plea to Jeremy Hunt to give the NHS an emergency funding boost.
In an unprecedented joint letter, the heads of 12 major trade unions made an urgent appeal to the Health Secretary to reverse Tory cuts and give the health service the money it needs.
They said this year’s “acute” winter crisis was the result of “years of cuts to services and wages, and damaging staff shortages”.
Union leaders told Mr Hunt the £1.6billion extra in November’s Budget came “far too late” and the NHS is kept going only through the dedication of more than one million workers.
TUC in the Mirror