Days lost to sickness absence from COVID-19 among nursing staff jumped dramatically from February to March 2022, data from NHS England has shown.
According to the data, Full time equivalent (FTE) days lost to sickness absence due to anxiety, stress, depression and other psychiatric illnesses increased by 17.4% when compared to the beginning of the pandemic in March 2020 (112,434) to March 2022 (132,053), while FTE days lost due to sickness absence related chest and respiratory problems increased to 71,691 in March 2022 from 52,821 in February 2022, is a 36% increase.
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‘The pandemic continues to take its toll on nursing, with a 17% increase in staff absence due to anxiety, stress and depression since March 2020,’ said RCN Director for England, Patricia Marquis.
‘The recent report from the Health and Social Care Committee laid bare the nursing workforce crisis. Millions of patients are facing lengthy waits for care, piling pressure on a profession already on its knees. Yet another real-terms pay cut has added insult to injury, leaving nursing with no choice but to consider industrial action.’
Additionally, FTE days lost due to Covid-19 sickness absence increased from 192,122 in March 2022 from 134,739 in February 2022, a 42.6% increase, while total FTE Nurses and Health Visitors decreased by 0.7% to 319,496 in April 2022 from 321,624 in March 2022.
‘Nursing and patient care must be the priority for investment, not the target for cuts. Otherwise absences will remain dangerously high and tens of thousands of nursing vacancies unfilled,’ added Ms Marquis.
‘We have also seen COVID-related sickness absence rise almost 43% in only a month. Free testing and high quality PPE are essential for all nursing staff to protect themselves and clinically vulnerable people they care for.’