16,500 doctors and nurses on sick leave with stress

The figures show there were 8,540 staff off with mental health and stress problems in 2013-14. Picture: TSPL

The figures show there were 8,540 staff off with mental health and stress problems in 2013-14. Picture: TSPL

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More than 16,000 doctors and nurses have been signed off with stress in recent years as concerns grow over the impact of increasing workloads on NHS staff.

Hundreds have been off work for over three months at a time, as a result of conditions which include mental health problems, according to figures obtained through Freedom of Information by the Liberal Democrats.

The impact of mental health issues on the lives of Scots will come into focus at Holyrood today as MSPs debate the issue.

Lib Dems health spokesman Jim Hume said: “It’s time the SNP government faced the facts on mental health provision in Scotland. SNP ministers have been in government for seven years but barely anything has been done to improve problems that will affect one in four Scots at some point in their lives.

“Today we have revealed that 16,500 NHS staff have been unable to work at some point in the past two years because of mental health problems. This is another shocking figure which sheds more light on mental health problems in Scotland.”

The figures show there were 8,540 staff off with mental health and stress problems in 2013-14 – up 565 on the previous year. More than 1,500 staff have been off for between three to six months, with hundreds more signed off for longer periods.

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The Lib Dems say this raises questions about mental health services for patients in Scotland.

Mr Hume added: “Too many people are facing unacceptably long waits for treatment and children are being treated in inappropriate wards because of a shortage of both staff and capacity. I’m concerned that these figures may also show NHS staff are bearing the brunt of SNP mismanagement of our hospitals.

“I will be challenging SNP ministers to set out plans for action to ensure our health service reflects the reality of problems faced by patients. So far their approach to mental health provision has fallen woefully short.”

Liberal Democrats have been calling on the SNP to enshrine in law equal treatment between mental and physical ill-health in order to tackle the stigma attached to mental health and improve provision.

It emerged last year that health boards across Scotland are not meeting agreed waiting times for patients requiring psychological therapies.

The target for Health Boards in Scotland was set to ensure 90 per cent of people were seen by a professional within 18 weeks of being referred. Currently only four out of 14 Health Boards are meeting the target.

Scottish Labour’s Jenny Marra said: “These figures show the strain our NHS is under in Scotland, with staff working in increasingly underfunded conditions. We will support the NHS and nurses and use the money from a UK mansion tax to fund an additional 1,000 NHS nurses, including mental health nurses.”

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