The Healthcare Safety Investigation Branch (HSIB), the watchdog responsible for monitoring safety in the health service in England, recently carried out a national investigation into NHS staff wellbeing and the results make for harrowing reading - for employees and patients alike.
The HSIB said it had found "strong links" between the wellbeing of NHS staff and patient safety. It said that the highest reported reasons for staff sickness were consistently anxiety, stress, depression and other psychiatric illnesses. Figures from September 2022 show this accounts for almost 500,000 full-time days lost in a single month - around a quarter of all unplanned absence.
The watchdog said that doctors, ambulance dispatchers and other NHS staff have faced "significant distress" and harm over the last year because of long delays in urgent and emergency care meaning they were not always able to help the sickest patients.
Investigators said that many staff had "cried or displayed other extreme emotions" in interviews when they were asked about their working environment.
The HSIB's national investigator Neil Alexander said: "We heard words like 'demoralising', 'powerless', 'hurt', 'relentless' during our interviews with staff.
"If staff are unwell, they are unable to be at work. That means other staff have to cover for them, which again increases the pressure on the system so teams are not able to function as efficiently and safely as they could do."