News

NHS figures reveal April peak in nurse sickness absence due to COVID-19

Anxiety, stress and depression also accounted for one quarter of absences of nurses and health visitors in May
Picture shows a young woman sitting on a sofa looking pensive

Anxiety, stress and depression also accounted for one quarter of skckness absences of nurses and health visitors in May

Just over one third of all sickness absence for nurses and health visitors were related to COVID-19 in April this year.

A total of 256,053 full-time equivalent (FTE) days or 36.7% of the total lost in April were due to COVID-19, compared with 17.5% (96,642) in March and 23.2% (126,467) in May.

NHS Digital figures also show that 25% (136,174) of the FTE days lost to sickness absence in nurses and health visitors in May were due to anxiety, stress, depression or other psychiatric illnesses, up

Anxiety, stress and depression also accounted for one quarter of skckness absences of nurses and health visitors in May

Picture shows a young woman sitting on a sofa looking pensive
Picture: iStock

Just over one third of all sickness absence for nurses and health visitors were related to COVID-19 in April this year. 

A total of 256,053 full-time equivalent (FTE) days or 36.7% of the total lost in April were due to COVID-19, compared with 17.5% (96,642) in March and 23.2% (126,467) in May.

NHS Digital figures also show that 25% (136,174) of the FTE days lost to sickness absence in nurses and health visitors in May were due to anxiety, stress, depression or other psychiatric illnesses, up from 17.3% (121,031) in April.

Stark illustration of staffing crisis facing the NHS

An RCN spokesperson said: ‘These figures starkly illustrate the reality of the staffing crisis facing the NHS in England.’

Labour shadow minister for mental health Rosena Allin-Khan said the figures were a wake-up call and sought a meeting with the government to discuss an urgent package of mental health support for health and care staff.

She said: ‘At a time when COVID-19-related sickness absences were going down, mental ill health absences were soaring.’

NHS has increased its health and well-being support for staff

A spokesperson for the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) said the NHS had increased its health and well-being support for staff and a range of services were available, including a mental health hotline, practical support, financial advice, and specialist bereavement and psychological support.

The RCN spokesperson said stress and sickness levels were only likely to increase unless there was more investment. ‘In a recent RCN survey, just over three quarters of nursing staff reported an increase in their own stress levels during the pandemic, with nine in ten saying they were concerned about the well-being of those in the nursing profession.

‘There needs to be urgent investment to not only grow the nursing workforce but to retain existing nurses.'

The DHSC spokesperson said: ‘Supporting the mental health and well-being of our staff is a top priority, and we understand the huge pressures they and their families face – particularly during this unprecedented pandemic.

‘We would urge anyone who is struggling to come forward and speak to a colleague, their occupational health team or call the hotline so they can get the help they need.’

View our COVID-19 resources


In other news

Sign up to continue reading for FREE

OR

Subscribe for unlimited access

Enjoy 1 month's access for £1 and get:

  • Full access to nursing standard.com and the Nursing Standard app
  • Monthly digital edition
  • RCNi Portfolio and interactive CPD quizzes
  • RCNi Learning with 200+ evidence-based modules
  • 10 articles a month from any other RCNi journal

This article is not available as part of an institutional subscription. Why is this?

Jobs