Astonishing new figures published recently by Carers UK report that one in five NHS staff members are juggling work with care and struggling to do so.

Sixty percent of us will become carers as some point in our lives. Caring for a loved one can be a life enhancing experience but the caring journey is rarely static and, at times of intensification, NHS staff need to be able to draw on support such as accessing good quality advice and information so they do not put their own health and future financial security at risk.

We know that carers retire on average eight years earlier than their peers, often leading to financial hardship in lost income but also smaller pension pots. This new research is essential reading for our NHS workforce and those managing staff retention. We also need to take a fresh look at what we are doing to support NHS staff carers.

This Carers Week (10th-16th June) we will be launching a staff carers survey as a first step to improve our support offer. It is essential that we understand staff needs to help formulate an action plan and to put in place carer-friendly policies and practices including flexible working and paid carers leave. But we also want to hear other ideas from carers themselves so the NHS can strive to be the most carer-friendly employer in Surrey!

For example, back in the 70s a movement was formed to ensure parental rights to care for children in an emergency. Perhaps we now need to ensure that someone who is caring for a mother with dementia has their rights recognised in the same way.

We are at the start of this journey so we want to hear from our NHS staff. We need to get this right for all of us. So make yourself a cup of tea and spend 15 minutes completing this survey and we’ll do the rest. 

Meantime I look forward to seeing many of you at our CCG Carers Lunch and Learn sessions which are taking place during Carers Week. Check locally for details.  If there are any staff members who need immediate advice and support, I will be available for confidential drop-in sessions.  If you would like to book a one-to-one session with me please send an email with your preferred date/location and time to nwsccg.hr.surreyheartlandsccgs@nhs.net.

Debbie Hustings, Partnership Manager (Carers), Surrey Heartlands ICS and East Surrey CCG