Medics are nearing the breaking-point with the largest number of stress-induced sick days in NHS Lanarkshire, according to The Royal College of Nursing.
In the last three years alone, staff at the University Hospital in East Kilbride have taken almost 90,000 sick days.
Through a Freedom of Information request, statistics from NHS Lanarkshire show an 18% rise in sickness at the hospital from 2016/17 to 2017/18.
Norman Provan from the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) said that nurses across the country are burning out due to stress, while NHS Lanarkshire claim the health and wellbeing of staff is “important” to them and that they are monitoring sickness leave.
Similarly to Hairmyres, stats show that Monklands had an 11% rise in absences from 2016/17 to 2017/18, however they dropped by 3% at Wishaw.
What is most startling about this increase is that mental health problems are the most common reason for absences.
Stress, anxiety, depression, and other psychiatric illnesses made up 162,410 sickness days at the county’s health centres and hospitals in the last three years.
This number increased from 51,151 in 2015/16 to 52,402 in 2016/17 and rose by 12 per cent the following year to 58,857.
Associate director for RCN Scotland, Mr Provan, criticized pressures on staff.
“The pressures on nursing staff are huge – demand for health and care services is rocketing and the number of staff is just not keeping pace with the number of patients they’re expected to care for.
“This is coupled with high vacancy rates.
“Nurses are working longer than their contracted hours and through their breaks. All this means that nurses are burning out as a result of stress and having to take time off.
“Health boards know that staff are reporting increased stress as a result of a lack of resources and need to do more to tackle this. While fully-resourced occupational health teams to provide early support for staff who are too stressed to work might help, what would make a real difference is having the right number of nursing staff in the right place to care for patients.
“The Health and Care (Staffing) (Scotland) Bill is an opportunity to address some of the workforce challenges facing nursing teams, safeguarding nursing in Scotland for the future.”
John White, NHS Lanarkshire director of human resources, said:
“The health and wellbeing of our staff is important to us. We offer a vast range of support, including physical and mental health services, to help our staff to both remain in work and return to work.
“We recognise that mental illness, both personal and work-related, is a significant reason for absence. As such, we have prioritised enhanced support for staff experiencing mental ill-health.
“We continually monitor sickness absence in accordance with the national standard and pro-actively introduce support to improve performance and staff wellbeing. Our most recent performance, June 2018, is 5.26 per cent. This was 1.26 per cent above the national standard.
- By Alison Kealy, Editor of East Kilbride
- sources: East Kilbride News, the Daily Record