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EXCLUSIVE: staff stress and anxiety at Barking, Havering and Redbridge NHS Trust has more than doubled since 2009

PUBLISHED: 19:00 04 July 2012

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The number of working days lost to stress and anxiety across Barking, Havering and Redbridge NHS Trust has more than doubled in the last two years.

The Recorder obtained the figures through a Freedom of Information request. The majority of the Trust’s employees work at the Queen’s Hospital, Romford.

In the year 2009/10, 86 of BHR’s 5000 staff phoned in sick at least once with stress or anxiety-related illnesses, costing the Trust 2470 working days.

But by the year 2011/12 this had risen to 162 staff taking a total of 6131 days between them – an increase of 150 per cent.

Just one person spent more than six months off sick as a result of stress and anxiety in 2009/10. By last year, the figure had jumped to six people.

Vicky Lucioni of Unison’s Greater London regional health team, which covers Queen’s, said the hospital had been through “massive changes”.

“Those figures do concern me,” she said. “Unison will be sending out a survey so people can raise concerns.

“I know people have been unsettled with the management changes. People aren’t very receptive to change.”

The Trust’s HR director Ruth McAll said BHR was aware of problems with stress and anxiety among staff.

“While we would have expected an increase in anxiety and stress related sickness over the last few years, this is something we are concerned about and are tackling,” she said.

“We have improved our reporting systems for sickness to make it far more accurate, and that will have affected figures. However, we know that considerable changes have taken place at the Trust over the past few years, and that will have had an impact on staff resilience and engagement.

“We need to support our staff more.”

In recent literature, local mental health charity Havering Mind has said one in six workers suffer from depression, anxiety or stress.

A spokesman said: “Mind is currently campaigning to make workplaces more mentally healthy. ‘Taking care of business: mental health at work’ is our campaign to help people understand and start talking about the costs of neglecting mental wellbeing in the workplace.”

BHR’s Ms McAll said the Trust’s occupational health department was now carrying out regular “stress audits” to check on staff wellbeing, and that workshops and a new “employee assistance programme” were offering help with recognising and supporting stress.

Havering Mind provides a range of services to support those experiencing depression, anxiety or stress. For more information contact 01708 457040 or visit www.haveringmind.org.uk.

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