Over 40,000 days of NHS staff time lost to mental ill health in Glasgow

Almost 150,000 days of nursing and midwifery staff time were lost to mental ill health in one year alone, figures show.

The Scottish Liberal Democrats said the statistics were “an insight into the toll that mental ill health has taken over the last year”.

The party is calling for an urgent burnout prevention strategy to guarantee leave and ensure safe levels of staffing.

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The Scottish Government said it had taken action to significantly expand the NHS workforce and support staff wellbeing.

What do the figures show?

Freedom of Information requests submitted by the Liberal Democrats to all of Scotland’s health boards revealed that in 2020/21, 149,990 days of nursing and midwifery time were lost due to mental ill health.

The party said this was the equivalent of 410 years of staff time being lost in a single year.

Greater Glasgow and Clyde reported 40,740 days lost to mental ill health, followed by Tayside (22,778) and Lothian (20,004).

Fife and the Western Isles did not respond.

What are the Scottish Lib Dems saying?

Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Alex Cole-Hamilton said: “Day after day nurses and midwives have gone above and beyond the call of duty, putting their own lives at extra risk to care for others. For some it has just been too much.

“These figures are an insight into the toll that mental ill health has taken over the last year, but the pressure was there before the virus struck.

“They have nursed us through the pandemic but in many cases at the cost of their own physical and mental health.

“Scottish Liberal Democrats have called for an urgent new burnout prevention strategy to guarantee leave, ensure safe levels of staffing and ensure that the Health Secretary carries the burden of missed waiting times.

“These are not just numbers, they are people who are struggling. People who need real solutions, not another decade of SNP mismanagement.

“After the toughest eighteen months of their careers, NHS nurses and midwives need new hope and I want my party to provide that.

“Nurses and midwives need to know that there is someone in their corner.”

How did the Scottish Government respond?

A Scottish Government spokesman said: “We are deeply grateful to everyone working in our NHS during this extremely challenging time.

“Throughout this pandemic, our dedicated NHS workforce have continued to provide an exemplary standard of care in the most trying of circumstances.

“We have taken action to invest in a significant expansion of the NHS workforce, as well as in measures to support staff wellbeing.

“NHS Scotland’s staffing levels have increased by 8 per cent, or by over 11,500 whole time equivalent staff, since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic alone.

“Following nine consecutive years of increases, we now have record NHS staffing levels - including record high numbers of nursing and midwifery staff.

“Our over £1 billion-backed NHS Recovery Plan and £300 million Winter Plan include further direct workforce investments to enhance NHS staffing capacity, as well as a combined £12m to support staff wellbeing.

“We have introduced a range of wellbeing services through the National Wellbeing Hub, including a 24/7 National Wellbeing Helpline, confidential mental health treatment through the Workforce Specialist Service and Coaching for Wellbeing resources.”