Majority of NHS employers see staff suffering from stress

More than 60% of NHS organisations believe up to half their staff may be suffering from workplace stress, according to a report.

The Workplace Stress in the NHS report, from NHS Employers, is published to coincide with Stress Awareness Day and the start of a campaign to help health service employers and their staff recognise stress and deal with it effectively.

Julian Topping, head of workplace health and employment at NHS Employers, said: “Stress has become one of the biggest causes of staff sickness and costs the NHS millions of pounds every year.

“Employers have a legal duty to manage stress among staff, and staff have a legal duty towards making sure they are safe and well.

“The main problem is that many people don’t recognise when they, or their employees, are stressed until it is too late, and if they do, they very often don’t know what to do about it.”

The report, carried out with information services provider ConsultGee, follows a survey carried out during the NHS Confederation annual conference in June 2005.

The findings include:

  • 62% of respondents estimated that up to half their employees might be under stress within their organisation

  • 35% of respondents said their organisations had carried out a stress risk assessment on staff (mainly every one to three years). The rest either hadn’t carried out an assessment, or didn’t know if they had.

  • 29% of respondents said their organisation had a stress policy and a further 6% said they had plans for such a policy

Counselling was the most popular stress prevention technique used by organisations:

  • 74% of respondents said their organisation offered this to their staff. 43% said their organisation redesigned or restructured jobs to tackle stress; 42% said they offered stress management training and education training programmes and 40% offered health checks.

  • 63% of respondents thought stress was discussed at senior management/board meetings anywhere between every few months to a couple of times a year.

Starting today, NHS Employers will be running a long-term awareness campaign about stress. The How Are You Doing? campaign will kick off with packs containing awareness posters and booklets being sent to every NHS trust in England.

Information and advice will also be available online for employers and staff on a new dedicated area of the NHS Employers website.

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