Rise in stress in health trust staff with ambulance service worst hit, figures show

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Stress and anxiety accounts for a greater portion of staff sick days at four health trusts and the ambulance service than last year or the year before, according to figures released by Health Minister Michelle O’Neill.

The Minister had been asked to outline the number of “working days and hours have been lost as a result of stress and anxiety sick leave in each Health and Social Care Trust over the last five years” by DUP MLA Carla Lockhart.

Mrs O’Neill didn’t provide those figures but did outline the “percentage of hours lost” due to stress and anxiety in each Health and Social Care Trust in Northern Ireland, as well as in the Ambulance Service.

She added: “The required breakdown cannot be provided prior to 2014/15.”

The figures showed an increase in the percentage of hours being lost due to stress and anxiety in every health trust, with the exception of the South Eastern Health and Social Care Trust.

The figures relate to the 2014/15 financial year, the 205/16 financial year and the period from the beginning of the 2016/17 financial year up to October (April-October 2016).

The ambulance service had the highest percentage of hours lost to stress and anxiety at 1.95 in the period April-October 2016, up from

1.77 in the 2015/16 financial year.

The equivalent figures for the Western Trust were 1.65 in 2015/16 and 1.74 from April to October. There was a similar rise in the Northern Trust with the figure of 1.55 rising to 1.67, while in the Belfast Trust the figures were 1.08 rising to 1.14. The Southern Trust recorded a rise from 0.91 in 2015/16 to 0.94 in the period from April to October 2016.

The South Eastern was the only trust not to record a rise, with a figure of 1.42 in 2015/16 falling to 1.37 in the period from April to October.

The figures exclude bank staff and are taken from the Health and Social Care Trusts’ records.