Stress still prevalent in the NHS

The number of NHS workers suffering from work-related stress remained steady last year.

In the latest annual staff survey by the Healthcare Commission of 209,000 staff, 36% reported they were suffering from work-related stress in 2005, the same percentage as 2004, but still down on the 39% reported in 2003.

On a more positive note, most other work-related injuries, including needle-stick injuries, slips, trips and falls all showed small improvements over the past three years, said the commission

More than seven in 10 NHS staff said they regularly worked extra hours, mostly because of the pressure and demands of their jobs.

A total of 36% said they regularly worked paid overtime, and 56% worked unpaid extra hours, with 13% reporting working six or more hours of unpaid overtime in an average week.

One in four also reported that their trust was not doing enough to promote hand cleaning.

Violence against staff also appeared to be on a downward trend. Of the workers polled, 28% said they had experienced either violence or abuse in the previous 12 months, compared with 31% in 2004, and 32% in 2003.

However, the problem is that incidents of violence and abuse are still only being reported by a small number of employees.

Only half of the workers who had experienced harassment, bullying or abuse from any source, and only 67% who had experienced a physical attack, said they had reported it.

Only half of those questioned agreed their employer would take effective action if workers were physically attacked. And just one in four said they had been trained in preventing and handling aggression from others in the past 12 months.

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