By Liam Dawes
The number of hospital workers taking time off sick through stress is increasing amongst continuing job uncertainty.
A stress action group has been established by bosses at Western Sussex Hospitals NHS Trust to help curb the growing problem.
Around 3.6% of staff at Worthing Hospital, Southlands Hospital in Shoreham and St Richard’s Hospital in Chichester called in sick at some stage during March – a rise compared with previous months.
Denise Farmer, Trust Director of Organisation and Development, said: “Sickness obviously has a huge impact on the quality of care we provide and our capacity.
“It is something we need to address.
“Stress is the highest driver for sickness in the Trust and it is an issue.”
Earlier this year, a national staff survey revealed that 29% of workers said they had suffered from stress at some point.
Employees said stress factors included working relationships with colleagues, and the growing demands of the job.
Changes in shift and working patterns has put workers under even more pressure, which hasn’t been helped by some vacant positions not being filled.
The Trust’s risk team is now planning to conduct individual staff surveys and give people wanting support the necessary help to control their working lives.
A spokesman for the Unison union said: “There is a lot of uncertainty within the NHS as a whole and these difficult times are obviously impacting on workers.
“Working at a hospital is a stressful job in itself anyway, but when these other pressures are added in, it can lead to problems.”