NHS stress absences more than double

NHS stress absences more than double

NHS staff sickness absences due to stress and related mental health issues are up 56% over the last 5 years, across the West Midlands. In Walsall there was a five-fold increase, with 14,000 working days lost.

National study

This is part of a national study by the BBC, and these local figures reflect the national picture, though Walsall appears to be well above the national average.

Tim Baggs, West Midlands Communication Manager for the Royal College of Nursing, said a staff survey conducted by the NHS five years ago revealed high levels of stress among medical staff.

"These [new] figures are a real cause for concern to us but they don't give us any surprises.

"They really do mirror what we have been hearing from our members and staff surveys about the relentless pressure that nursing staff are under.

"We had what should have been a seismic report five years ago into the health and well-being of NHS staff which recommended that trusts should do more.

"Some have done that but clearly these figures suggest trusts could be doing better."

For more on work-related stress, see our Resources Section.

What price mental health?

At the same time as huge cuts and changes in the NHS increase pressure on staff and worsen the service to patients, a study by BBC News and the online journal Community Care shows that mental health service budgets, already far from sufficient, have been "cut by 8%".

Care Minister Norman Lamb said budgets are "not the full picture" as "mental health care is given through a range of services including the voluntary sector", which we know is also being cut.  He also said that the payment system in the NHS "disadvantaged mental health'. 

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