Stress taking its toll as NHS staff in Tayside under ‘huge’ pressure

Stressed NHS staff have taken more than 1.3 million hours off work in the last six years, according to new figures.

Information obtained by the Tele showed that health workers took 1,328,028 hours off for anxiety, stress, and depression between January 2012 and June this year.

It accounts for more than a fifth of all sick time taken off during the period — more than six million hours in total.

In addition, the time taken off for mental health reasons rose by a third between 2012 and 2016.

Nurses and midwives were most likely to ask for time off for mental health reasons.

Bob McGlashan, senior officer for Tayside at the Royal College of Nursing, said nursing staff were under “huge” pressure at work, with an increased demand for services and a number of vacant posts adding to their workloads.

Bob McGlashan

He said: “Nurses are the largest staff group working on the frontline of the NHS, so it’s not surprising they have the highest number of staff with sickness absence.

“NHS Tayside has made some progress in protecting staff health and wellbeing, but more work needs to be done.

“Fully-resourced occupational health teams can provide early support for staff who are too stressed to work and this might help — but what would help more is having the right number of nurses in the right place to care for patients .”

NHS staff are also taking more time off due to colds and flu, with a 78% rise in time off to treat them, and for substance abuse, including alcohol and drug problems.

George Doherty, NHS Tayside’s director of human resources and organisational development, said the board was one of the strongest in Scotland in supporting positive attendance at work.

He added: “Despite that strong performance, we acknowledge that there will always be room to improve. We continue to work closely with our local trades unions to support the wellbeing of all those staff who work with us providing care to the people who rely on our services every day.

“It is important that individual members of staff can feel confident to highlight when those life pressures begin to affect them, and to know that there is support for them at these times.”