There can be no argument that the NHS has a very difficult job. Employing more than 1.5 million people, the doctors, nurses, ambulance staff, GP’s and hospital staff combine to make one of the world’s largest workforces. NHS performs an incredible service despite the continual discussions relating to staff shortages, long hours, hospital deficits and funding.
However, the dedication applied by many members of staff when caring for patients can often come at a cost. A number of studies has documented that NHS staff have over recent years experienced increasing levels of stress, musculoskeletal problems and mental health issues that are affecting their overall health.
- Just over a quarter (26%) don’t take a break while at work. (Guardian survey).
- 96% of NHS staff work beyond their contracted hours, doing an average of 5 extra hours per week.
- Absenteeism costs the NHS £2.4bn per year.
- Mental health & musculoskeletal problems are the 2 biggest causes of sickness absence in NHS.
- The amount of ‘stress leave’ recorded by the NHS has risen by 37% in 3 years. (Freedom of Data).
Janet Davies, General Secretary of the Royal College of Nursing has stated,
“These figures paint a bleak picture, but one that sadly will not be a surprise to people working in the NHS. Healthier, happier staff are better able to care for their patients so failing to act on sickness levels is both costly and bad for patient care.”
Recognising the need for change, the culture in the NHS has improved a great deal and in September 2015, NHS Chief Executive Simon Stevens revealed a major drive and £450 million in funding to improve the health and wellbeing of 1.3m health service staff. The initiative will not only support staff, but is expected to provide a knock-on effect for both patients and taxpayers.