Increasing Number of NHS Staff Take Time off Due to Psychiatric Illnesses

Wednesday 8th April 2015

It has been revealed that a “worrying” number of hospital staff are taking time off work due to psychiatric illness such as stress, anxiety and depression.

Cardiff and Vale University Health Board figures reveal that staff absences for this reason increased from 1,154 in 2011-2012 to 1,221 in the following year. Figures reported online show that the numbers rose again in 2013-14 to 1,385.

Director of the Royal College of Nursing in Wales, Tina Donnelly, expresses her concern. She explains that the number of nurses who feel unable to cope should not be underestimated. She is acutely aware of the pressures faced by NHS staff across the entire country, not just under Cardiff and Vale.

Ms Donnelly blames these pressures on understaffing issues, increased numbers of patients and workers lacking in the relevant sets of skills for the positions they work in.

She claims that very few staff members go home feeling as though they’ve had a good week at work, and dealing with these issues on a regular basis takes its toll and people get depressed and anxious.

Cardiff and Vale of Glamorgan Community Health Council has said that it is highly concerned by the increase in stress-related illnesses reported by NHS staff.

Deputy chief officer of Cardiff and Vale of Glamorgan Community Health Council, Des Kitto, stated they recognise that stress can cause mental and psychological harm as well as affecting employee’s health, attendance and performance at work. This can have an adverse affect on how patient care is delivered.

The Community Health Council is aware of the significant boost in local hospital admissions over the last few months, and declares that most of the patients have been very ill and elderly. In itself, this can be a huge challenge for staff to deal with.

Assistant Director of workforce for Cardiff and Vale University Health Board, Julie Cassley, said the wellbeing and health of staff is of paramount importance.

She said that the Health Board continue to do whatever they can to protect, prepare and support the people they work with. They acknowledge that the number of instances linked to stress and other psychiatric illnesses has increased and do not underestimate the significance of challenges faced by staff in all areas.

Ms Cassley said the health board is working to meet the increasing demands of health care associated with being one of the fastest growing regions in Europe. She claims they are doing everything they can to ensure staff are able to access the right support when necessary and are actively recruiting further staff to help them meet the challenges.

The health board has offered posts to 85 new nursing staff since December, and plans to recruit additional employees in the near future.