Stress takes toll on hospital staff: 91 take long-term sick leave
ALMOST 100 members of staff at East Yorkshire's hospitals have been off work for 28 days or longer due to stress and anxiety so far this year.
Since January, 366 workers at Castle Hill and Hull Royal Infirmary have been on long-term sick leave – 91 of them due to "anxiety, stress, depression or other psychiatric illnesses".
Two members of the 8,385-strong workforce have been off for "colds, cough and flu", while one employee has been absent due to "substance abuse".
Hull and East Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust, the health body that runs both hospitals, pointed out that the overall figure is below the national average.
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Jayne Adamson, the trust's chief of workforce and organisational development, said its sickness absence rate was 4.08 per cent, compared with the NHS national average of 4.42 per cent.
She said: "Clearly, we take all instances of sickness and long-term sickness very seriously.
"Our managers receive training to enable them to support staff who are experiencing difficulties with their physical and psychological health.
"Specialist advice and support for individual members of staff and managers on all work-related health issues is available through our very good Occupational Health Service."
Ms Adamson said interventions, such as physiotherapy and counselling, are in place to address some of the main causes of staff absenteeism.
The trust advised caution against comparing the figures with those recorded in other areas of the public sector.
Ms Adamson said: "The NHS workforce is extremely diverse in terms of occupations and skills compared with many other public sector employers.
"For instance, NHS work is often physically and psychologically demanding, which increases the risk of illness and injury.
"The NHS is also one of few organisations that operate 24-hour services 365 days a year.
"We recognise the issues facing our staff and we work hard to ensure we support them when necessary."
The trust and the Department of Health were unable to provide a national average figure specifically relating to time off for stress.
Sharon Benstead, of the Royal College of Nursing, said morale is suffering as trusts struggle to meet demanding health targets set by Government.
She said: "Sadly, I'm not surprised by these figures.
"The NHS is a tough place to work at the moment.
"Staff are working at full stretch, often covering frozen or vacant posts.
"At the same time, patient demand and bed occupancy remains high, with staff working beyond their normal hours.
"If this isn't enough, staff are worried about their job security and making ends meet when their pay has been frozen for three years."