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Stress, anxiety and depression accounts for nearly 18,000 days of staff absence in Norfolk and Suffolk’s mental health trust

PUBLISHED: 19:14 29 June 2017 | UPDATED: 21:30 30 June 2017

Hellesdon Hospital, which is run by Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust. Photo: Bill Smith

Hellesdon Hospital, which is run by Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust. Photo: Bill Smith

Archant © 2012

The region’s mental health trust recorded almost 18,000 days of staff absence within the last 12 months due to stress, anxiety and depression, a report has revealed.

Mental health issues were the highest known reason for absence across the Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust (NSFT) according to a report published ahead of a board of directors meeting.

In total, 17,649 days were lost within a 12-month period due to mental health issues.

The report estimated those absences have cost the trust £1.58m over the last 12 months.

In April 2017, stress, anxiety, depression and other psychiatric illnesses made up 28.1pc of all absences, a slight decrease on 28.2pc reported in March 2017.

The report cited a recent survey by mental health charity, MIND, of public and private sector 12,000 employees.

It revealed, on average, public sector workers took three days off due to mental health issues in the last year, compared to just one day for private sector workers.

In the 12 months leading up to April 2017, sickness days lost to mental health issues averaged four days per employee at the trust.

A spokeswoman for the trust said: “In the 12 months from May 2016 to April 2017 only 78 episodes (single periods of absence) of staff absence were reported as being due to work-related stress out of the 562 reported in this overarching category (13.8pc).

“It is a very difficult time for any member of staff working in the NHS where we see increasing demand upon services and upon the energy and goodwill of our staff members, while we try to expand services and staff numbers, to alleviate some of those pressures.

“And working within a mental health trust has its own unique pressures on the emotional wellbeing of staff.”

She said last year the trust launched its five-year Staff Wellbeing Strategy providing counselling services and training to managers and staff.

A report outlining the trust’s preparation for its upcoming CQC inspection in July said: “The use of bank and agency staff remains high and inspection events have highlighted this as one of the staff’s major concerns.”

According to the report, turnover of staff within the trust increased from 14.1pc in March 2017 to 14.5pc in April.

The report said the voluntary turnover rate is only slightly above the trust’s 10pc target at 10.4pc, although the figures vary from one service area to another.

It continued: “Looking at this, of most concern are Suffolk East, Suffolk West, Norfolk West and Substance Misuse Services.

“These services have a higher proportion of voluntary leavers due to work/life balance than other services with lower turnover and the localities are therefore being encouraged to explore this with their staff and implement plans to address.”

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