NHS staff working ‘too many hours and feeling pressure to work sick’

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Stressed-out NHS workers are doing too many hours at shortstaffed hospitals and being pressured not to take time off sick.

A staff survey paints an alarming picture of poor working conditions as hospitals struggle to recruit enough nurses.

Demoralised workers at Mid Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust rated the organisation among the worst in the country to work for and made allegations of bullying.

The 2015 NHS Staff Survey found that almost 70 per cent of staff at Pinderfields, Pontefract and Dewsbury hospitals, were working extra hours.

Some 41 per cent of Mid Yorkshire staff suffered work-related stress in the past year, and 26 per cent - more than one in five - said they suffered bullying from colleagues.

The survey found that 57 per cent felt pressure to go into work when they were sick during the past three months

Some scores improved since last year’s survey - but further evidence of desperation among workers emerged when they were asked to provide written comments this time round.

One staff member said: “There are never enough staff around in the department any more.

“I have never known staff so fed up and demoralised or feeling so devalued. I am very concerned.”

Another said everyone on their ward strived to do their best for patients, but added: “However, we rarely get a break, are understaffed and never leave on time due to the demands of the job.

One worker described “manic” working conditions and colleagues going off sick.

When asked about the culture at work, one person said: “Horrible place to work. Totally finance driven with little concern for patients or staff. A major catastrophe is a matter of when, not if.”

“Culture of bullying is widespread within the organisation. The trust’s core values are a joke,” added another.

Commenting on the trust management, a staff member wrote: “Senior management seem to overwork or bully middle management sufficiently that none of them stay for very long.”

Of 493 people who provided further comments, 12 per cent were positive and 88 per cent negative, said a report to yesterday’s meeting of Mid Yorkshire’s board.

Julie Bolus, interim director of engagement, said: “Some of the issues in the direct comments are unacceptable and we are determined to tackle them.

“Staffing levels came out as a major issue. Since the survey closed in November we have recruited more nurses and more healthcare assistants and this will continue.

“In the coming year we need to make sure we listen to our colleagues, act on what they are telling us, and do all we can to make sure these results improve in the next survey.”

Scores which improved on the 2014 survey included looking forward to going to work, being enthusiastic about the job, caring for patients being the trust’s top priority and whether staff would recommend it as a place to work.