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  1. ITV Report

Investigation finds increase in nurses taking time off due to stress

Nurse Sandra Humberstone Credit: ITV News Central

An investigation by ITV News Central has found that the number of nurses taking time off because of stress has increased in the Midlands.

For the East Midlands, it has gone up by 30%, and for the West Midlands, 39%, between 2011 and 2015.

Sandra Humberstone works as a lung cancer nurse at City Hospital in Nottingham. She says the job is both emotionally and practically challenging:

Sandra said a running club organised by the hospital's health and wellbeing department has helped her cope.

Steph Knowles, who organises the club, says it is important to look after hospital staff to help them perform at their best:

There is a lot of evidence that our staff can find work very difficult. We do know that stress is one of the leading causes of staff being off sick.

But if you can look after your health and wellbeing then it does build your resilience. It does give you more coping mechanisms to enable you to cope with the day to day stresses of life.

– Steph Knowles

Dr Sheila Marriott, who represents the Royal College of Nursing in Nottinghamshire, believes the problem is largely due to a national shortage of nurses.

She say nurses are often "too overstretched to deliver the quality of care they want to achieve."

Investigation finds increase in nurses taking time off due to stress Credit: ITV News Central

Some hospital trusts are recruiting nurses from abroad to try and fill the gap.

The trust that looks after hospitals in Leicester, University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust, wants to recruit around 300 hospital jobs from countries like India and the Philippines.

The first 30 recruits will start next spring:

Having a full team in place and having all the staff you require on every shift is bound to help. Technically nursing's become more challenging.

We do more interventions than we used to do so there's a lot more responsibility for people.

There's a lot more paperwork than there used to be - all for good reason - but that all means that the day is probably busier than it ever was before.

– University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust

The nurses we spoke to in the course of this investigation all agreed that the job has got busier. They cited reasons like higher patient expectations, an ageing population and a general increase in workload.

Hospital trusts also told us that they are actively encouraging nurses to report stress related absences, and this could also have contributed to the increase.