Tackle the vicious circle of work-related stress in the NHS

Helen Duddy
Helen Duddy

#stuc19 Congress condemned the levels of work-related stress suffered by health professionals and will press the Scottish Government work with unions to identify work-related stress and ensure workers have access to support services at the earliest possible stage.

Supporting the motion from the College of Podiatry, UNISON’s Helen Duddy, herself a health worker, said that UNISON members working in health all know too well about the increasing strains on NHS staffing levels and the associated pressures on individual workloads.

She stated that podiatrists and other allied health professionals are, like everyone in the NHS, determined to do the best by their patients.

“Yet, when there aren’t enough staff to deliver the service properly, our members are well aware that the effect on patients’ health can be devastating in many cases, indeed life threatening for some.

“This fact, and concern for their patients, adds to the work-related stress pressures on staff,” warned Helen, pointing out that if patients, for example people with diabetes, don’t get proper, regular treatment, the health consequences can be life changing or worse.

“Our members and the teams they work in are part of an NHS in Scotland that is under pressure, with figures released in October showing high stress absence levels. And if you have a cycle of not enough staff, then extra workload, then increasing stress levels and increasing absence, you have a vicious escalating circle,” warned Helen.

The number of days lost to stress in the NHS went up by nearly 20 per cent in the last three years, and early a million work days were lost due to absences for stress, anxiety, depression and other mental health issues.

That is a human cost to NHS staff and adds, via that vicious circle, to the pressures on all staff.

Congress, this motion identifies positive action the General Council can take to ensure.

“The earlier the stress is addressed, the more chance there is of preventing it becoming a long term mental health problem,” said Helen, urging the Scottish Government acts to identify work related stress and provide proper support and resources to staff.

Click here for more information on the STUC website.

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