Stress crisis in the NHS

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STAFF stress levels at NHS Calderdale are among the country’s worst, according to a nationwide survey of NHS employees.

The 2010 survey by independent regulators the Care Quality Commission showed 36 per cent of staff said they had suffered from work-related stress in the past 12 months.

The figure scored it among the worst 20 per cent compared with similar trusts across England - and was a “significant” increase on 2009’s figure of 28 per cent.

NHS Calderdale ranked among England’s worst in five out of 38 areas in the survey - including that a quarter of staff reported witnessing at least one error, near miss or incident which could have hurt staff, patients or service users in the last month.

Also, one in 100 staff reported experiencing physical violence from colleagues or managers in the past 12 months and 12 per cent of staff reported experiencing harassment, bullying or abuse from patients, service users, relatives or member of the public over the same period.

The PCT scored among England’s best 20 per cent for 12 out of the 38 areas - including feeling valued by work colleagues, receiving health and safety training, reporting errors or near misses, not feeling pressure to attend work when unwell, good communication between staff and job satisfaction.

It also scored one of the England’s best results for whether staff would recommend their trust to others.

Staff were asked to give a rating from one to five, with five being ‘likely to recommend” - and the trust scored an average of 3.65.

NHS Calderdale currently has control of the health budget and commissions services but under new government plans this will pass to GPs and PCTs will be scrapped by 2013.

About 600 staff employed by the provider arm of the PCT will be transferred to new employers - Calderdale and Huddersfield NHS Foundation Trust or South West Yorkshire Partnership NHS Foundation Trust - by the end of this month.

NHS Calderdale chief executive Rob Webster said: “We pride ourselves on our commitment to staff.

“Overall the survey suggests we are one of the best NHS employers in the country and our staff feel valued, enjoy their job, work as part of supportive teams, receive the right level of training to keep themselves and their patients safe and that there is good communication with senior managers.

“We welcome the findings of the survey and we will use them to inform the organisation’s development.

“We recognise that staff currently feel extra pressure due to changes happening in the NHS.

“We have ensured there is a range of support in place from free counselling and career development workshops to financial planning sessions.

“Safety is our first priority. We have been working to raise awareness of incidents and near misses, including how to report them. This is in line with advice from the National Patient Safety Agency.

“We use incident reporting, including near misses, as a chance to learn and reduce the likelihood of the incident happening again in the future.”