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NHS staff feel the stress of the holiday period

January 20, 2016

The holiday period is a stressful time of year, and even more so for healthcare professionals. Hospitals need to ensure that healthcare staff who have to work over the holidays feel supported and treated fairly, according to an article published by Becker's Hospital Review.

No matter how scheduling is handled, there are going to be fewer people on hand over the holidays. This can lead to additional pressure for those on duty, the Pennsylvania Medical Society noted in a recent announcement. In addition, medical professionals are also stressed by trying to balance their professional and family obligations, the society said.

A survey conducted by the Guardian in 2015 showed that NHS staff are more likely to feel stressed because of their job than any other public sector workers. 61 per cent of healthcare workers who took part in the research reported feeling stressed all or most of the time, and 59 per cent said they felt more stressed than in the previous year.

Job stress and burnout in hospital employees can be dangerous, both for staff and for patients. A study conducted in a regional hospital in Taiwan in 2014 showed that 66 per cent of nurses reported burnout due to high levels of stress at work. In addition, this was also seen in 61.8 per cent of physician assistants, 38.6 per cent of physicians, 36.1 per cent of administrative staff and 31.9 per cent of medical technicians.

The data published by the Guardian showed that just over a quarter (26 per cent) of healthcare workers don’t take a break at all, and only around one in ten gets more than half an hour. The large majority of NHS workers (96 per cent) also work beyond their contracted hours, doing an average of five extra hours per week.

Danny Mortimer, chief executive of NHS Employers, said: "Frontline work in the NHS is rewarding, but it can be emotionally and physically challenging, so it’s vital those staff have the right support. The culture in the NHS has improved demonstrably and there is more specialist support. But we cannot be complacent as progress is uneven and the NHS must keep innovating to meet ever-growing demand on its services."

It's important to manage stress levels in healthcare workers as this can reduce the risk of them suffering from a range of occupational problems, such as needlestick injuries. 

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