Liberal Democrats reveal over 45 million hours of NHS staff illness

Scottish Liberal Democrat health spokesperson Alex Cole-Hamilton MSP has today declared that “it does not take a brain surgeon” to recognise that Scottish NHS staff are overworked and in need of a break, as he revealed new data showing that there have been over 45 million hours of staff absence since 2016, with staff mental health issues cited as the number one cause.

A freedom of information request submitted by the party to health boards revealed that since 2016, 45,066,655 hours of staff time have been lost to illness. This has risen from 11.6m hours in 2016 to 13.7m hours in 2018. The data also revealed that for almost every health board the number one reason for absences was listed as “Anxiety, Stress, Depression and other Psychiatric illnesses.”

Mr Cole-Hamilton said:

“Being on the front line of our NHS is a rewarding but at times harrowing job.

“These figures reveal the toll that mental ill health is having on the very staff who have dedicated their careers to looking after others.

“The fact that the number one reason for staff absence is mental health conditions should make the Scottish Government pause and think again.

“The SNP’s waiting time improvement plan has been a total failure. It does not take a brain surgeon to work out that you will not improve performance when staff are forced to work in pressure cooker conditions shift after shift.

“The SNP cannot continue to rely on the goodwill of hardworking doctors and nurses. They must make sure that every shift is properly staffed so that NHS staff can get on with the job they are so desperate to do.”

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