urses and midwives were forced to take more than 225,000 days off because of mental health issues in the last year, new figures show.
Figures obtained by the Scottish Liberal Democrats using freedom of information legislation show the equivalent of more than 621 years were lost in nursing and midwifery across Scotland’s 14 health boards in 2021-22.
Some 226,885 days were lost – an 11% increase from the previous year when the figure stood at 204,764.
Scottish Lib Dem leader Alex Cole-Hamilton has accused the Scottish Government of being “stubbornly pig-headed” about the issues that impact health workers.
NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde reported the highest volume of absence with 68,165 days, although it is unclear how this translates as a proportion of staff, given the board is the largest in the country.
NHS Lothian followed, with 35,575 days of absence reported.
Mr Cole-Hamilton said: “Day after day, nurses go beyond the call of duty. During the pandemic that meant risking their own lives to care for others. These figures emphasise the heavy toll of that work on the mental health of staff.
“These are not just numbers. These are people struggling, people who need real solutions – not another decade of SNP mismanagement.
“The Scottish Government has been stubbornly pig-headed when it comes to easing the pressures on our dedicated NHS workers.
“They have repeatedly opposed and ignored Scottish Liberal Democrat calls for a burnout prevention plan and a staff assembly.
“These policies would guarantee annual leave, ensure safe levels of staffing, and put the experience of those on the frontline at the heart of tackling the crisis in our NHS.”
The Lib Dem leader went on to tell nurses and midwives that his party is “in their corner”.
The Scottish Government will publish a plan for improving the wellbeing and culture within the health service next year, with Health Secretary Humza Yousaf expressing his gratitude to staff.
“We remain deeply grateful to all our health and social care staff who have shown tremendous dedication and commitment throughout the pandemic, and continue to support them as we move through winter,” he said.
“Patient safety and staff wellbeing are of paramount importance and we made £12 million available in the last financial year to support workforce wellbeing.
“We are working with partners across health, social care and social work and speaking with staff to best understand where pressures are and how we can mitigate their impact.
“This includes things like quiet spaces, out of hours catering and other local initiatives to complement the National Wellbeing Hub, helpline and confidential mental health treatment available nationally.”
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