Some health staff in the county have “lost their mojo” according to a councillor, as he called for better support for NHS workers in Shropshire.

Health bosses were grilled by councillors and health professionals at a meeting of the joint health scrutiny board held at Shirehall this week (May 16).

The committee heard that progress was being made against a rolling five year improvement programme at the county’s NHS Trust – but Telford & Wrekin councillor Derek White said ongoing staffing issues would hamper the delivery of the strategy, and demanded to know what was being done to support health workers.

In response Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital Trust strategy director Nigel Lee said they had put significant investment into supporting staff, and were still recruiting in a “controlled” way to key clinical roles, despite the announcement of a partial recruitment freeze earlier this year.

“Staffing is one of the most important issues and the reality is you’re struggling with staff,” said Councillor White.

“That’s the biggest issue here – without the staff you’ve got no programme.

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“A lot of them have lost their mojo, they’ve been through hell and back [in the pandemic] and you’ve got to actually start firing that ambition and actually getting more younger people in there to help and support, but at the present you’ve got a recruitment freeze, an overtime freeze.

“How in God’s name are you going to do that with staff who are demotivated and struggling?”

In response, Mr Lee said health services nationally were facing a “huge challenge” with staffing recruitment issues, but said they had bolstered levels through overseas recruitment – and said that the organisation’s apprenticeship programme was “blossoming”.

“I think we know, and it was absolutely epitomised during Covid… Some of the pressures people have been under have been significant," he said. 

"I know that there has been significant investment and focus in staff psychology services because it’s been really important to support those staff and also then to help them at both an individual and team level.

“We’re really, really, really cognisant of the pressure on health and care professionals across the board, and it’s not just the hospital, it’s absolutely across the board. We’re very alive to making sure that we listen, that’s important, as well as respond to both requests and recommendations from the staff.”

In March, Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital Trust announced a recruitment freeze for non-critical roles as part of efforts to deal with a “significant financial deficit” of around £91million.

However Mr Lee confirmed the organisation was still recruiting to key clinical roles, but was also looking to make efficiency improvements in existing services.

“There is a carefully controlled process of recruitment – where there are front line basic clinical roles then the teams then recommend those and they are endorsed and we have continued with recruitment in those key clinical roles.

“Where there are opportunities to look at doing the service in a different way, increase both productivity and/or efficiency, then we are doing that and that provides us with an opportunity.”