Nearly a third of staff absences over the past year at Bolton NHS Foundation Trust were stress-related, new figures show.

NHS Digital figures show there were roughly 35,700 full-time equivalent days lost due to stress-related absences in the year to June at Bolton NHS Foundation Trust – accounting for 30.3 per cent of the total 117,800 days lost.

It is down from 34.1 per cent of staff absences in 2021-22.

The figures cover all professionally qualified clinical staff, clinical support staff, and infrastructure support staff who were absent due to anxiety, stress, depression, or other psychiatric illnesses.

James Mawrey, director of people and deputy chief executive at Bolton NHS Foundation Trust, said: “We have a range of services for colleagues to access, including dedicated physical and mental health support services, such as through our Occupational Health team, our 24/7 support through Employee Assistance Programme and access to wider support across Greater Manchester, which can help support colleagues with any work or non-work-related issues they may be facing.

“We always encourage our staff to speak up and support them to seek support when they need help so while I am pleased our overall figure is reducing, I’d ask any member of staff working in what can often be high-pressure situations to use the support available and speak up for the help they may need.”

Across all NHS England organisations, 6.1 million FTE days were lost to stress-related staff absences.

They made up nearly a quarter (23.9 per cent) of all days lost in the year to June.

It is relatively in line with the year prior but down significantly from 27.7 per cent in 2020-21.

Overall, 25.5 million days were lost to staff absences in 2022-23, marking a fall from 26.6 million days the year before.

Dr Billy Palmer, Nuffield Trust senior fellow, said the high sickness absence rate in the NHS adds to costs and disruptions to care.

He said: "If staff who are off sick cannot be covered by temporary staffing, this has a direct impact on those receiving care, and those stuck on waiting lists waiting for care.

"The level of staff sickness related to mental illness, anxiety and stress, which are bundled together in this data, is a troubling indicator of the pressure being experienced by NHS workers."

A Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said: "We are hugely grateful to NHS staff for their hard work and their health and wellbeing is of paramount importance.

"For those staff that need it, the NHS provides physical and mental health support – including targeted psychological support and treatment."

They added the Long-Term Workforce Plan, backed by £2.4 billion in government funding, focuses on recruiting and retaining more staff to make the NHS the "best place to work".

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