Strain of 40,000 staffing short­age

Sunday Mirror (Northern Ireland) - - News - EX­CLU­SIVE BY NICOLA SMALL [email protected]­daymir­

STRESSED NHS nurses took nearly ONE MIL­LION days off sick with men­tal health prob­lems in just eight months.

Chronic staff short­ages have been blamed for the 922,210 days lost to stress, anx­i­ety, de­pres­sion and other psy­chi­atric illnesses from July 2018 to March this year in Eng­land – a quar­ter of all sick days taken by nurses.

The Royal Col­lege of Nurs­ing says there are more than 40,000 va­can­cies.

Kim Sun­ley, its Na­tional Of­fi­cer for Em­ploy­ment Relations, said: “It’s heart­break­ing but not sur­pris­ing.

“Em­ploy­ers are tak­ing steps to im­prove sup­port for staff but it’s a stick­ing plas­ter when the greater prob­lem is too few nurses.

“The Gov­ern­ment missed the chance to sig­nif­i­cantly in­crease the num­ber of stu­dents in the 2020/21 aca­demic year to start ad­dress­ing this prob­lem.

“Min­is­ters now need to ex­plain ex­actly how they plan to stem the cur­rent work­force cri­sis in nurs­ing, with over 40,000 posts va­cant in Eng­land alone.”

The NHS Dig­i­tal fig­ures in­clude all care set­tings, in­clud­ing hos­pi­tals, schools and the com­mu­nity.

Worst hit were those who work with pa­tients who have learn­ing dis­abil­i­ties – 37 per cent of their sick days were stress-re­lated.

The Col­lege says fig­ures show there were 33,513 com­mu­nity nurses last Novem­ber – 5,000 fewer than 2010 as the Tory-led coali­tion came to power.

One com­mu­nity nurse told an RCN sur­vey: “At the end of the day you’re ex­hausted then come home and write up patient notes in your own time.”

A district nurse said lack of week­end cover meant pa­tients had no sup­port.

And an­other said she was look­ing for a new ca­reer af­ter 25 years due to the toll on her health and fam­ily life.

NHS Em­ploy­ers Chief Ex­ec­u­tive Danny Mor­timer said stress sick­ness lev­els were “of concern,” ad­mit­ting un­filled va­can­cies placed “ad­di­tional strain on those try­ing to fill the gaps”.

“One of the key ways to over­come this is to fo­cus on re­cruit­ment and re­ten­tion,” he said. “We need a com­mit­ment from the Gov­ern­ment to in­vest, par­tic­u­larly in ar­eas of great­est short­age.”

UNDERSTAFF­ING and over­work is be­ing blamed for NHS nurses tak­ing nearly a mil­lion days off sick with stress, anx­i­ety or de­pres­sion.

That’s be­cause the Tories failed to re­cruit enough stu­dents to fill the 40,000 short­fall.

Which means that the prob­lem will get worse be­fore it gets bet­ter.

This is as much about com­pe­tent ad­min­is­tra­tion as money. And the Tories don’t sup­ply the NHS with enough of ei­ther.

WARN­ING Kim Sun­ley

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