NHS stress-related absence up by 17% in three years

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Stress-led absences in the NHS have risen by just under a fifth, new analysis shows.

The number of staff absent due to stress, depression and anxiety has risen 17.6% between 2015/16 and 2017/18, according to statistics obtained by Labour through Freedom of Information.

The equivalent of more than one million working days have been lost during this period.

The majority of health boards, 10, showed an increase in these types of absences during that time, while four recorded a decrease.

The figures show extensive fluctuations between areas with NHS Fife absences due to stress, depression, anxiety and other psychiatric illnesses up 39.4% between 2015/16 and 2017/18 and NHS recording the greatest decrease during the same period of a 30.4% drop.

Scottish Labour health spokeswoman Monica Lennon said: “Stress-related absences in our NHS have rocketed in recent years, causing the equivalent of more than one million work days to be lost.

“It’s obvious that people working in the NHS are being pushed to the limit, often delivering high levels of care to the detriment of their own health and wellbeing.

“The SNP has created a staffing crisis in our health service, with more than 3,000 nursing and midwifery posts lying unfilled.”

She added: “The SNP has created stress and anxiety for patients and staff but it was Labour who created the NHS and we will not accept this complacency from a tired and timid government.

“Hardworking and dedicated NHS staff deserve better than this.”

A spokesman for Health Secretary Jeane Freeman said: “We take the welfare of hardworking NHS staff very seriously, and every health board is required to have robust policies in place when it comes to the mental health and wellbeing of employees.

“But we will take absolutely no lectures from Labour when it comes to staffing.

“It is the SNP which has delivered record high NHS staff numbers, up by more than 12,000 on the number inherited from Labour – and we have also delivered record health funding, in contrast to Labour’s plan at the last election to spend even less than the Tories.”

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