Should Stress at Work Form Part Of the Political Parties Manifesto?

The General Election is little over a month away and we expect to see the major parties battle over the usual issues surrounding the NHS, Education, public spending and so on.

Stress in the workplace has increased significantly in recent years, particularly in the public sector. This costs the economy billions with many sources placing the cost at in excess of £5 billion.

I have written several articles upon the increasing number of employees within the NHS on long term sick due to stress in the workplace. The NHS Staff Survey 2013, published in February 2014, concluded that almost 40% of NHS staff had suffered ill health as a consequence of stress sin the workplace and further that this figure had increased from the previous year.

These figures were even worse amongst the Ambulance Trusts which cited Stress at Work as causing health issues in 51% of employees.

I don’t have access to the actual statistics but from the research I have conducted the cost of the absences in the NHS alone to the Taxpayer equates to millions of pounds. Take for example the position in the Ambulance Trusts There are approximately 18,500 ambulance staff and the average salary of a paramedic is in the region of £21,000 – 28,000 according to the NHS website. Taking an average salary of £25,000 and assuming 51% of ambulance staff had time off with stress for say an average of 3 months, the total cost would be in excess of £50 million per annum.

Again according to statistics I have read, the NHS employ in excess of 1.5 million individuals and if nearly 40% of those individuals have had time off with stress at work, this is over 500,000 individuals, the majority of which will be paid full sick pay for their initial period of absence.

This, of course, is just in the NHS. The position within our education system is just as bad. Channel 4 reported in 2011 that suicide rates amongst teachers had risen by 80% and I am aware from my own working practice that there is widespread stress at work amongst teachers.

April is National Stress Awareness month, it is perhaps ironic therefore that this likely to be the month when politicians are most stressed as they frantically try to gain that all important seat within the House of Commons to secure a General Election win for their chosen political party.

Perhaps then these politicians can do some good once elected and attempt to tackle the ‘hidden’ issue of Stress at Work, particularly in the public sector, and then put the Millions of pounds saved to good use rather than simply passing this cost onto the taxpayer. The cynic in me thinks this will never happen but if someone, somewhere sat down and actually put the figures together in far more detail than I have done, I’m sure there would be serious questions asked of which ever party is ultimately is elected as to why this issue has not been dealt with sooner.

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