Stress and the staffing crisis

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2018 Health Care Service Group Conference
8 December 2017

Conference notes that stress in the workplace is a long standing problem for NHS staff, and research (Hannah Flynn 2016) indicates that almost 9 in 10 practice nurses, GPs and other primary care workers find their work life stressful, leading to some to have suicidal thoughts.

Conference believes that health staff are in responsible positions caring for ill patients and so the symptoms of stress (depression, panic attacks, anxiety disorder, and so on) can have a critical effect. It is a step forwards that stress is being talked about more openly with less stigma, but disappointing that we cannot be confident that it will be addressed.

Whilst some individual factors can bring about stress, there are many factors in the workplace that contribute to it including bullying, verbal and physical abuse, low pay, and especially staff shortages.

Conference welcomes UNISON’s “Guarding Against Stress – A Tool Kit for Success” launched in 2017, and believes it is vital that it is not just another leaflet to be left on the shelf but instead is used to lead the way to a better and healthier workforce. Anecdotally too many members and employers are still unaware of the good practice and advice that the toolkit contains.

Conference calls on the Health Service Group Executive to:

1)publicise “Guarding against Stress – A Tool Kit for Success” to branches;

2)back branches to raise the issue with members and employers;

3)campaign for enforceable staff / patient ratios to protect staff from stress and ensure quality care for patients.