Concern At Rise Of Sick Days Among NHS Staff

27 December 2015, 05:00

Almost 600,000 working days have been lost across the health service over the past four years due to mental health problems.

Figures obtained by the Scottish Liberal Democrats show 575,000 days were lost between 2011 and 2014 after staff took sick leave because of mental illness.

The number of NHS sick days as a result of mental ill health has increased each year, rising from just over 86,500 in 2011 to almost 180,000 in 2014.

Among clinical staff, sick days rose from almost 33,000 in 2011 to almost 65,000 in 2014.

Lib Dem health spokesman Jim Hume has called for urgent mental health support for NHS workers.

He said: "Doctors, nurses and other NHS staff are working under enormous pressure and these figures show just what a toll this is taking on their mental health.

"These figures are stark. Hundreds of thousands of days have been lost as a result of mental ill health.

"This is putting real strain on services and costing the taxpayer millions of pounds.

"More importantly, failing to tackle mental ill health in our NHS will impact on the many, many staff who are not getting the support they need.

"We know that mental health services in Scotland are stretched, with reports that some young people have been forced to wait more than a year and travel hundreds of miles for specialist treatment. It is time that the SNP Government started taking mental health seriously.

"Our NHS does fantastic work every day of the year to keep people healthy.

"We cannot ignore the mental health of the NHS staff doing their best to keep us fit and well.''

Jamie Hepburn, minister for mental health, said: "We value the dedication of our NHS staff extremely highly.

"They provide a first class service and we are determined to support them to do so.

"We have made clear commitments to improve mental health services and support for people experiencing distress and mental ill health.

"Last week's budget included an extra #50 million for mental health over the next five years - increasing mental health investment from £100 million to £150 million.

"Health boards are required to comply with the managing health at work partnership information network policy, which includes a policy on mental health. Boards are also required to ensure they have policies in place.''