New guidance to help NHS managers reduce stress in the workplace

Guidance on prevention and management of stress at work

NHS Employers today (Wed 5 Nov) published comprehensive guidance to help managers throughout the NHS reduce stress in the workplace and better support staff who experience it.

For the past two years, 38 per cent of staff have told the NHS Staff Survey that they have suffered stress in the previous 12 months. NHS Employers also estimates that over 30 per cent of all sick leave is now caused by work-related stress in the NHS, costing up to £400 million each year.

Guidance on prevention and management of stress at work was written by the Health, Safety and Wellbeing Partnership Group – a subgroup of the NHS Staff Council which includes employers and staff-side unions. It is published by NHS Employers which represents employers in the Council and acts as its secretariat. The guidance is launched on 5 November to mark National Stress Awareness Day.

Two of the biggest causes of stress in the NHS are increasing demand on health services and ongoing organisational change. Some NHS staff have to deal with violent and unpredictable patients, others deal with traumatic and harrowing circumstances, and others have a lack of support or are not receiving enough communication about changes affecting them.

The guidance explains the many different areas that need to come together to tackle stress:

  • It is important to understand the causes and impact of stress before you can plan to address it.
  • Measuring stress effectively helps to identify trends and who most needs support, which can point towards underlying issues such as whether certain staff minorities experience more stress.
  • Comprehensive health and wellbeing policies are rapidly increasing in the NHS and there are many ways to work with staff to ensure these are embraced as more than ‘just policy’.
  • Managers are not always good at understanding stress and handling how staff feel, but there are many ways managers can improve their behaviours and how they responsibly address concerns such as work overload.
  • Working in partnership with charities, staff-side union representatives and occupational health experts gives staff more channels of support and helps to increase trust and good practice.

Download Guidance on prevention and management of stress at work

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