Concern as NHS Fife staff absences due to mental health issues are revealed

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A Fife MSP has said he is "deeply concerned" by the number of staff absences in NHS Fife due to mental health issues in recent years.

NHS Fife revealed that 3579 staff were absent from work due to mental health issues between 2020-2022. These absences resulted in 96,336 working days being lost locally. Nationwide, almost 75,000 staff in Scotland’s NHS have been absent in the last five years due to mental health issues, amounting to a loss of more than 1.5 million work days.

Murdo Fraser, (Scottish Conservative for Mid Scotland and Fife) released the local and national figures last week after health boards across the country turned over data in answer to a series of Freedom of Information (FOI) requests from the party.

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Mr Fraser said: “The scale of absences among staff working in NHS Fife due to mental health absences are deeply concerning. My thoughts are with those members of staff who have felt completely overwhelmed and needed to take time off work.”

Murdo Fraser MSP (Pic: Phil Wilkinson/TSPL)Murdo Fraser MSP (Pic: Phil Wilkinson/TSPL)
Murdo Fraser MSP (Pic: Phil Wilkinson/TSPL)

And he continued: “We should never have reached a point where so many staff in NHS Fife are beyond breaking point and so many working days are being lost.”

NHS Fife did not release data from 2018 or 2019, but from 2020-22 mental health absences at the health authority increased steadily year on year. In 2020, the local medical authority documented 1078 mental health absences compared to 1287 in 2022. Absences are due to mental health issues including anxiety, stress, depression and other problems.

Greater Glasgow & Clyde, and Lothian recorded the highest number of staff absences due to mental health over the past five years, while Orkney and Shetland recorded the lowest. Amongst the other mainland boards, NHS Fife sat in the middle of the pack.

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Mr Fraser said it was clear from the data that health staff in the region are completely overwhelmed.

He has urged SNP Cabinet Secretary for Health, Michael Matheson, to treat the figures as an urgent wake-up call and for him to reconsider Humza Yousaf’s NHS Recovery plan which Mr Fraser claims has failed to support staff in NHS Fife.