NHS managers sickness absence caused by stress, anxiety and depression

on 02 September 2019

A study by NHS Digital, which reveals reasons for sickness absence, shows NHS senior managers and managers cited stress, anxiety and depression as the main reason for sickness absences.

According to the study, 348,028 working days were lost across the NHS due to anxiety, stress and depression in April 2019 alone, contributing to almost a quarter of all sickness.

Senior managers and managers were most likely to cite stress, anxiety and depression as the cause of their absence, accounting for 32.5% and 32% of time off respectively (equivalent to 8,152 days lost in April).

Around a quarter of nurses and health visitors cited poor mental health as their cause for sickness absence.

Speaking to Health Service Journal, NHS Providers Director of Policy and Strategy Miriam Deakin said: “Without fundamentally increasing capacity by improving recruitment and retention, it is challenging for trusts to overturn worrying trends such as sickness absence.

“Trusts are doing all they can to support their workforce, and rightly focusing on staff engagement, inclusivity and building positive working cultures.”

In total, NHS staff took 1.4 million sick days in April 2018. The second most comment reason for sick leave after poor mental health was musculoskeletal problems which accounted for 10% of days taken off.

NHS Digital research also showed that sickness absence rates in the NHS increased from 3.79% in April 2018 to 4.06% in April this year.

NHS Employers Chief Executive, Danny Mortimer, added: “Some things have already been done or are underway. There was a three-year investment in public sector pay, done and enacted last year. There is a real understanding and obligation on employers to improve the quality in their offer for employees.

“We just have to make sure jobs are do-able. People have to feel they can do the best for their patients.”

Data from the Office of National Statistics showed stress and anxiety accounts for 7% of sickness absences across the UK.