• 19 August 2021
  • 3 min read

Will Increased Mental Health Absences In NHS Staff Be A Wake-Up Call For The Government?

  • Matt Farrah
    Co-Founder
    • Richard Gill
    • Mat Martin
    • Laura Bosworth
    • Aubrey Hollebon
  • 2
  • 452
Will Increased Mental Health Absences In NHS Staff Be A Wake-Up Call For The Government?

New data suggests mental health-related absences amongst NHS workers increased by more than a third over the past months. Concerns had repeatedly been raised over staff wellbeing during the winter surge of COVID cases.

The latest figures indicate there was a 37% increase in the number of mental health-related absences throughout the NHS between February and June 2021.

The data also showed that approximately 4,000 more staff were off work because of their mental health in June 2021 when compared with the same time last year.

What measures could the government be taking now, before the NHS comes under increased pressure again during the autumn and winter months? Comment 💬 Like ❤️ Reply 🙂 below.

In February this year, the organisation First Care, which collates information regarding the NHS workforce across the UK, estimated there were around 9,500 staff off work due to mental health concerns. By June, this figure had increased to more than 13,000.

The largest month-on-month increase was recorded between April and May 2021, when mental health-related absences grew 20% – from around 10,800 to more than 12,900.

To what extent could the disruption brought about by being required to self-isolate due to COVID rules, coupled with the resultant staffing shortages, have contributed to pressure on NHS workers’ mental health?

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What do YOU think?

Let me know your thoughts in the Comments & click Like!

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Between February and June 2021, the NHS lost an estimated 885,000 workdays to mental health-related reasons. This is in comparison to 472,000 sickness days due to Covid-19 or other medical reasons.

The costs of lost working time due to poor staff mental health have been estimated at a minimum of £149million so far in 2021.

Given the perennial demands for more funding for the NHS, how seriously do you expect the Government and NHS leaders to look at minimising such costs going forward?

During the first peak of the pandemic in April 2020, 10,374 NHS staff were recorded absent because of their mental health. In April 2021 this figure was 10,801, an increase of 4%.

The biggest increases however were seen year-on-year. Comparing May 2020 to May 2021, there was a 55% increase in mental health-related absences. Absences also increased by 42.4% from June 2020 to 2021.

Now the NHS faces added pressure due to a growing patient backlog, what can be done in the short-term to relieve some of the stress on NHS workers?

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What do YOU think?

Let me know your thoughts in the Comments & click Like!

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A survey conducted by Nursing Times in March 2021 found almost two-thirds of nurses felt their mental health had suffered since the initial peak of the pandemic and that the wellbeing support available is not sufficient.

What longer term support infrastructure would you like to see put in place to avoid higher levels of staff absence and eventual burn-out?

Interim deputy director of nursing, policy and public affairs at the RCN, Matthew Barker said: “The past year has taken a great toll on the nursing teams’ wellbeing; many are telling us they have no more reserves and don’t know how they will continue at this pace."

“The added pressure and emotional trauma experienced by all nursing staff, whatever setting they are working in, means there is a very clear need for them to have easy access to support now and in the future. Our health and care services can’t afford to lose any member of the nursing team” he added.

Do you think the increasing numbers of students enrolling on nursing courses this year will be enough to offset losses of staff due to mental health issues? Or does more need to be done in the here-and-now?

Should there be an increased focus on staff welfare, given that with so many vacancies currently unfilled in the NHS, the health service can ill afford to lose any staff members?

Please let us know what you think in the comments, and Like the article if you found it interesting.

Thanks.

About the author

  • Matt Farrah
    Co-Founder

I studied English before moving into publishing in the mid 90s. I co-founded Nurses.co.uk and our other three sites in 2008. I wanted to provide a platform that gives a voice to those working in health and social care. I'm fascinated, generally, by the career choices we all make. But I'm especially interested in the stories told by those who choose to spend their life supporting others. They are mostly positive and life-affirming stories, despite the considerable challenges and burdens faced.

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  • Matt Farrah
    Co-Founder

About the author

  • Matt Farrah
    Co-Founder

I studied English before moving into publishing in the mid 90s. I co-founded Nurses.co.uk and our other three sites in 2008. I wanted to provide a platform that gives a voice to those working in health and social care. I'm fascinated, generally, by the career choices we all make. But I'm especially interested in the stories told by those who choose to spend their life supporting others. They are mostly positive and life-affirming stories, despite the considerable challenges and burdens faced.

  • 2 Comments
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    • Patricknurse Corrigan one month ago
      Patricknurse Corrigan
    • Patricknurse Corrigan
      one month ago

      In the early part of the 20th century. Nurses were treated as Angels. They were badly paid. Treated by society ... read more

      • Thank you Patrick for your considered response.

        Replied by: Matt Farrah
    • Rajen Jussun one month ago
      Rajen Jussun
    • Rajen Jussun
      one month ago

      There are a lot of measures that the Government need to take in order to remedy the chronic shortage of ... read more

      • Thank you for your contribution Rajen.

        Replied by: Matt Farrah