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Tackling stress key for healthcare workers

May 21, 2015

Healthcare workers are often some of the most vulnerable professionals when it comes to suffering from high stress levels. The fast-paced nature of a hospital environment, combined with long shifts and responsibility over patient welfare, means that it is only normal for doctors, nurses and other professionals to experience at least some stress or anxiety.

However, when these stress levels escalate it can have a detrimental impact on their ability to look after patients and adhere to policies like sharps safety.

As well as having a negative effect on their physical health, which can be costly to the wider organisation, being highly stressed or anxious can make it more likely that healthcare workers will lose concentration or forget a certain step in a procedure.

A new study from the British Dental Association (BDA) found that many professionals in this area struggle from high stress levels. It revealed that four in ten community dentists report experienced high levels of stress at work.

This was a similar figure to previous reports, suggesting that there has been little success in trying to tackle this issue when it comes to people in this area.

The survey found that those under the highest amount of pressure were the ones who had the biggest workloads or did not have the time to make all their patient appointments. This is something that is common among all healthcare workers, and can be a warning sign that they may be at risk of suffering from stress.

The research found that poor management and difficult work relationships were likely to cause stress for respondents. This could help managers better ensure that their employees don't suffer with high stress levels.

Chair of the BDA’s Salaried Dentists Committee Michael Cranfield said: “The deteriorating working environment for community dentists needs to be acknowledged and addressed. The BDA says employers must not ignore the evidence that shows persistent and worryingly high levels of stress amongst their staff. 

"We recognise that managers are under considerable pressure themselves, having to manage ever-increasing demands with over-stretched budgets; nevertheless employers have a duty of care to provide a safe working environment for staff."

According to the study, half of the dentists surveyed said they felt they "often" or "always" had to work with unrealistic time pressures, while a similar number said they "never", or "rarely" had supportive feedback from their line managers.

These can be common themes for people across the healthcare profession, and should be something that hospital managers are observing closely.

Keeping stress levels of healthcare workers within a healthy range helps ensure that all the proper sharps safety policies are adhered to and that patient care is maintained at all times.

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