NHS staff feel less stressed despite harassment at work

Stress levels among NHS employees reduced last year, but not by much, according to an authoritative survey of NHS workers.

The NHS staff survey by the Healthcare Commission found 36% of staff had suffered from work-related stress in 2004, compared with 39% in 2003.

The study is the largest workforce survey in the world, with more than 217,000 NHS staff from 572 organisations in England taking part.

Workers appear to be aware of the work of OH, and how to access it. A total of 96% reported access to occupational health services at work, with 80% reporting access to counselling services, compared with 73% last year.

Nearly two-thirds of workers had received some health and safety training from their employer in the past 12 months, the survey found.

One in four NHS staff were harassed or abused by patients or their relatives, with the figures little changed on 2003.

A total of 27% of staff had been abused, harassed or bullied at work in the past 12 months by patients or their relatives, rising to 37% if bullying and harassment from colleagues was included.

More than one in 10 – 14% – had been physically attacked by patients or their relatives in the past year, and a further 1% reported experiencing violence from colleagues.

Yet, most NHS staff said they were generally satisfied with their work and committed to providing the best possible care for patients, it added.

Healthcare Commission chief executive, Anna Walker, said: “The fact that more than a third of staff say they suffer from work-related stress is a major concern.”

Royal College of Nursing head of employment relations, Josie Irwin, said: “The number of violent attacks on NHS staff is quite shocking, and inevitably affects retention.”

* See feature on page 17

Go to www.healthcarecommission.org.uk

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