Almost 150,000 nursing and midwifery days were lost to mental ill health in Scotland, figures have revealed amid growing concerns about burnout among healthcare staff.
Freedom of information requests submitted by the Scottish Liberal Democrats to all the country’s health boards revealed 149,990 days of nursing and midwifery time were lost due to mental ill health in 2020/21. This equated to 410 years in one year alone.
Greater Glasgow and Clyde reported the most days lost to mental ill health (61,110 days), followed by Tayside (22,278) and Lothian (20,004).
Alex Cole-Hamilton, leader of the Scottish Liberal Democrats, called for the Government to back his party’s emergency Burnout Prevention Plan. This would include guaranteeing leave, ensuring safe staffing levels and making the health secretary responsible for waiting times.
Mr 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.’
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…
‘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.’
Over £1bn has been invested in the NHS Recovery Plan and £300m invested in the winter plan, on top of a combined £12m to support staffing wellbeing, they added. They have also introduced a National Wellbeing Hub including a helpline and mental health treatment.
The figures come after a RCN poll earlier this week found 57% of nursing staff across healthcare settings are thinking about quitting or actively planning to quit their job.