Thousands of struggling NHS take sick days off for stress, anxiety, or depression

Watch ITV News reporter Chlöe Oliver's exclusive report on the number of sick days taken by NHS staff — and on what is being done to help

More than two years on the frontline of one of the worst pandemics in history has left many healthcare professionals' mental health at breaking point.

Noreen Nguru-Berkou worked as a doctor in the NHS for nine years across a range of NHS trusts in London and the South East.

But, after collapsing from exhaustion during a ward round and ending up the same bed as those she was treating, she decided to quit.

Noreen says: “A lot of us are operating on goodwill. I could be scheduled to work 12 hours but I could be working 14-16 hours because somebody needs my help. I just remember thinking you can’t have healthy patients if you don’t have healthy doctors.”

1.1 million sick days were taken in 2020-2022 by NHS workers in the North East
2.8 million sick days were taken in 2020-2022 by NHS workers in the South
1.5 million sick days were taken in 2020-2022 by NHS workers in the West Country

After seeing the stress of doctors treating her dad in hospital and working as a counsellor herself, Claire Goodwin-Fee knew she had to help.

So she created Frontline19 - a free service, funded by donations, which is now helping 9000 medical professionals every week with confidential advice and support.

In a statement, the Department of Health said: “We are hugely grateful for the hard work of NHS staff and their health and wellbeing is of paramount importance.

"Frontline staff can get rapid access to mental health services through 40 nationwide mental health and wellbeing hubs, as well as access to broader support including a helpline, apps and self-help resources.

"We have also commissioned NHS England to develop a long-term workforce plan to help recruit and retain more staff."