NHS nurses face harassment, stress and bullying at work

Half of all nurses working in acute NHS trusts suffer from bullying, harassment and abuse, a study by an NHS research body has suggested.
The research by NHS Partners has calculated that stress-related workplace absence costs NHS trusts an average of 450,000 a year.

The findings were spelled out at an NHS National Occupational Health and Safety conference in Manchester in January.

It suggested that 39% of NHS staff reported feeling unwell because of stress, with NHS organisations spending 3.6m a year covering sickness absence costs.

As a result, the body has developed a ‘toolkit’ to help organisations evaluate their most likely stressors.

NHS Partners has also published statistics showing sickness absence and turnover levels across the NHS between April 2003 and March 2004:

  • The survey of 146 NHS trusts recorded an overall absence rate of 4.9% last year, compared with 5.2% the year before
  • Ancillary staff reported the highest levels of absence, at 7.2%, with unqualified nurses at 7.4%
  • Medical and dental staff generally reported the lowest rates, at 1.4%
  • Geographically, the Midlands and Trent areas suffered the highest levels of absence, with eastern England the lowest
  • Sickness among nursing and midwifery staff had shot up, from 0.5% to 6.8%.
  • The main reasons for absence were stress (12.5%) and musculoskeletal conditions (11.9%).


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