Sickness absence in NHS falls but attacks on staff remain unacceptably high

Levels of injury and illness among NHS workers are generally falling, though violence and bullying remain a serious problem, according to the latest snapshot of working lives within the service.

The annual staff survey by the Healthcare Commission found 17% of staff in acute trusts said they had suffered a work-related injury or illness during the previous 12 months.

But this was a substantial decrease on the 21% reported in 2005, 22% in 2004 and 24% in 2003, said the commission.

The percentage of staff who said they had suffered from work-related stress over the same period was also down, to 32% last year, compared with 35% in 2005, 36% in 2004, and 39% in 2003.

The situation was similar in primary care trusts, with 12% of staff saying they had suffered a work-related injury or illness, down from 13% in 2005, 15% in 2004, and 16% in 2003.

One-third said they suffered from work-related stress, down from 35% in 2005, 36% in 2004, and 38% in 2003.

The one anomaly was in ambulance trusts, where the 36% suffering a work-related injury or illness was unchanged on 2005, but down on 41% reported in both 2004 and 2003.

But the percentage suffering work-related stress, at 33%, was down on the 37% reported in 2004 and 2005, and 42% in 2003, said the commission.

One in 10 staff in mental health and learning disability trusts suffered injury or illness related to their work, compared with 11% in 2005, 13% in 2004, and 14% in 2003.

On work-related stress, the percentage was also down, at 34%, from 37% in 2005, 38% in 2004, and 40% in 2003.

But violence and abuse remained unacceptably high, particularly in ambulance trusts and mental health and learning disability trusts, warned the commission.

The number of NHS staff saying they experienced physical violence had remained relatively unchanged since 2005 across all trust types. But the number who experienced bullying, harassment or abuse increased in almost all trusts types, with a 5% increase in ambulance trusts.




 

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