Survey details work stresses in the NHS

NHS staff remain vulnerable to “unacceptably high” levels of physical violence from patients, their relatives and other members of the public, the Government has said, with 8% of staff having reported recent incidents.

The 2010 employee survey of 388 NHS trusts in England by the Care Quality Commission also reported a 1% increase in work-related stress, to 29%.

Another issue that caused worry for occupational health professionals was the finding that there had been an increase in the percentage of staff reporting that they had felt pressure to work when feeling unwell.

More positively, there had been an improvement in the level of health and safety training and a fall in the percentage of staff suffering work-related injuries, which had decreased by 1% to 14%.

The reporting of incidents in relation to violence, harassment and abuse had also increased, with nearly three-quarters of incidents of physical violence being reported (against 71% in 2009) and more than half of bullying, harassment or abuse cases (54% in 2010 compared with 53% in 2009).

A total of 63% of staff indicated that they had not experienced any difficulties in completing their daily work because of their physical health, virtually unchanged on the 62% in 2009.

The same proportion (63%) indicated that their daily work had not been affected by any personal or emotional problems, again unchanged from 2009.

Some 66% of staff reported that they had attended work in the previous three months when they felt unwell, although this was again almost static on 2009 (67%).

Of those who had attended work while unwell, 91% (unchanged from 2009) said that they had put themselves under pressure to attend, with 30% (from 28% in 2009) saying that they felt under pressure from their manager, and 21% (unchanged from 2009) feeling pressure from other colleagues to attend.

After work-related stress, moving and handling injuries (10%) were the second most common cause of work-related injuries or illness across the NHS, being most common (29% versus 30% in 2009) among ambulance trust staff.

XpertHR examines the steps that employers are taking to manage and reduce work-related stress.

XpertHR also details a case study in which an employer builds a preventative framework for managing work-related stress.

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