SOUTH Tyneside and Sunderland Hospitals NHS Trust has experienced an increase in staff absences for anxiety, stress and depression, data shows.
A Freedom of Information (FOI) request found that from 2019-2020 there was a 21 per cent increase between nursing and midwifery, dental and medicine and admin staff absences for these reasons.
A hospital worker, who has asked to remain anonymous, said: “During the start of Covid it was very hard because as a ward we were broken into separate teams and spread out around the hospital.
“This was difficult as normally we are very supportive to our staff and can offer them reassurance when they are having a difficult times, however the situation was brand new to us and we were helping out where wards were short and were not sure from shift to shift where we would be.
“Staff were very anxious at the start of the pandemic, it has been a very difficult time for them.”
Nursing and midwifery saw the biggest increase, 25%, in absences for anxiety, depression and stress compared to 2019.
Admin and Clerical staff absences had increased by 15 per cent.
The Royal College of Nursing found nurses considering leaving the profession has increased to more than a third, 36 per cent, from 27 per cent at the end of 2019.
There were over 40,000 nursing vacancies prior to the pandemic, and the report warns that the increase in those considering leaving is a serious cause for alarm.
The North East suffered some of the highest Covid infections during the pandemic and was placed in the highest tier, tier 3.
The hospital worker said: “Once we have been reunited as a ward we have been a COVID ward for a second time. I found that staff were still anxious throughout this time but we had support from all of our colleagues.
“Staff have been affected different ways during COVID, e.g. some swabbing positive and returning to work fine, whereas others have been off longer with ongoing problems.
“The hospital have been very supportive with staff.”
The hospital and Royal College of Nursing have been contacted and we are awaiting a response.