Cooper: NHS rocked by mental health tidal wave

The Liberal Democrats have warned the NHS is at breaking point after new figures uncovered a mental health crisis sweeping through staff across health services in the UK.

A Freedom of Information Request tabled by the Party to all NHS Hospital Trusts has revealed that there have been at least 8.3 million mental health sick days since 2017.

The number of mental health sick days has increased every year since 2017, with some Trusts seeing large increases during the pandemic years.

The terrible revelations show that in 2021 alone more than 2 million days were taken off sick by staff suffering from mental health issues – the equivalent of 6,041 years. Liberal Democrat analysis of the data taken from 67 Hospital Trusts shows that Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust has been hit, with a staggering 591,254 working days lost to mental illness.

The data also shows that both the Northern Care Alliance NHS Foundation Trust (Salford, Oldham, Rochdale and Bury) and Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust have sky high figures with 555,798 and 401,417 sick days respectively.

The Liberal Democrats who have revealed the damning statistics are calling for a host of improvements to help tackle the NHS mental health crisis.

They are calling on the Government to fix the workforce crisis in our health services by filling the 100,000 vacancies in the NHS. The health service cannot function properly when it is this understaffed, when staff are stretched so thin and working excessive hours.

Liberal Democrat Deputy Leader and Health Spokesperson Daisy Cooper has written to Sajid Javid, the Health Secretary, calling on him to fix the workforce crisis.

Liberal Democrat Health Spokesperson Daisy Cooper MP said:

These staggering figures show the NHS is facing a tidal wave of mental health-related absences. This must be a wake-up call to this Conservative government that they can’t turn a blind eye to this crisis any longer.

Years of the Conservatives taking the NHS for granted has left our health service understaffed and overworked, while the pandemic has worsened the huge pressures facing frontline staff.

Sajid Javid needs to come up with a clear plan to support NHS staff, starting by fixing chronic staffing shortages and reducing unsustainable workloads.

Every day that the Conservatives go on ignoring this problem will mean more NHS staff falling ill from work-related stress, and more patients going without the care they need.

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  • Brad Barrows 17th Apr '22 - 5:15pm

    Yes, though checking with NHS Hospital Trusts will not provide information for the whole of the UK (as suggested in the first paragraph), I am sure that had information also been sought from Scotland’s Health Boards, a similar pattern would have been discovered. I also suspect, though just based on anecdotal information, that other front line public services would also have similar figures. This issue needs to be a clear priority if ‘covid-recovery’ is going to mean anything in practice.

  • David Garlick 18th Apr '22 - 10:06am

    As much as we don’t like the idea of putting up taxes it is true that we get what we pay for. The fact that workers from abroad are no longer welcome in this country, sets the scenes for the staff that would be welcome to go elsewhere. This Government will never sort this problem. We need to remove them.

  • This crisis could be avoided with some new information about mental wellbeing and how to maintain it. The truth is we all have mental welness and it is obscured by excessive thinking. Understanding better how to maintain mental health should be part of our core subjects like writing and reading.

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