NHS staff took almost 7,000 full-time days of sick leave because of drug or alcohol abuse last year, figures reveal
- Charities said substance abuse would be used as many to cope with stress
- But this could impact performance which is 'concerning'
- It could also harm mental health, which in turn could lead to more time off
Alcohol Change UK said they expect many workers in the health service will use substances as a way of coping with stress.
However, this could impact on their decision-making, which the charity warned was 'particularly concerning'.
Regular use of drink and drugs to cope could also lead to mental health problems, such as anxiety, which in itself can lead to time off work.
The NHS trust with the highest number of sick days was Barts Health NHS Trust in London, with 428 in total over 12 months.
NHS staff took almost 7,000 full-time days of sick leave because of drug or alcohol abuse last year, figures reveal. The map pins the areas with the highest number of sick days.
Between December 2017 and November 2018, NHS employees across England were sick for the equivalent of 19 years, according to NHS Digital.
A total of 107 NHS trusts and three Clinical Commissioning Groups recorded staff absences because of substance abuse last year.
The data does not distinguish between sick leave taken by medical staff responsible for patient care and administrative and managerial staff.
WHERE ARE THE MOST SICK DAYS FOR SUBSTANCE ABUSE TAKEN?
The NHS Trusts with the most sick days caused by substance abuse are as follows:
1. Barts Health NHS Trust - 428
2. Camden and Islington NHS Foundation Trust - 338
3. East and North Hertfordshire NHS Trust - 317
4. Blackpool Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust - 302
5. NHS Property Services Limited (across the UK) - 219
6. East London NHS Foundation Trust - 197
7. South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust - 191
8. Hull University Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust - 190
9. Nottinghamshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust - 168
10. Kent and Medway NHS and Social Care Partnership Trust - 118
Mark Leyshon, senior research and policy manager at Alcohol Change UK, noted that people may drink to cope with work-related stress and other pressures.
He said: 'Drinking to manage stress may be common, but that doesn't mean it works - it may even increase anxiety longer term.
'It also impacts on work performance, resulting in absenteeism, impaired decision-making and damaged relations with co-workers - and in the vital roles done by NHS employees these performance problems have a particularly concerning potential impact.'
Alcohol Change UK said it was important for the NHS to make staff aware of the risks of alcohol and drug abuse, and put support in place for them.
Mr Leyshon saod: 'The starting point is to provide a safe and healthy working environment, including one in which staff are not overworked.
'One of the most important things an employer can do is work to create a climate of openness that is more about identifying problems and encouraging people towards support, and less about punishment.'
A spokesman for NHS England and NHS Improvement said: 'NHS staff struggling with drug and alcohol problems deserve compassionate support like anyone else, which is why the NHS has set up programmes such as the GP Health Service that can help them.
'However, patient safety is paramount and if a staff member were to come to work under the influence they would be subject to well-established disciplinary procedures.
'For doctors and nurses this could also involve scrutiny of their fitness to practice by their professional regulator.'
In total, sick days for substance abuse account for around 0.04 per cent of the more than 17,700,000 sick days.
In the general population in England, alcohol-related sickness accounts of around seven to 11 per cent of all sickness absence, according to the Government’s impact assessment of Minimum Unit Pricing in 2012.
NHS Digital said days lost to substance abuse could be for a range of reasons.
There are also no reliable figures for the misuse of drugs and alcohol by NHS staff.
A survey in 2001 by Alcohol Concern and Drugscope suggested that 60 percent of employers had staff with alcohol problems and 27 percent with drug misuse.
WHAT NHS TRUSTS REPORTED SICK DAYS BECAUSE OF SUBSTANCE ABUSE BETWEEN DECEMBER 2017 AND NOVEMBER 2018?
|NHS Trust||Annual full time equivalent days lost due to sickness|
|Kettering General Hospital NHS Foundation Trust||4|
|Leicestershire Partnership NHS Trust||3|
|Lincolnshire Partnership NHS Foundation Trust||1|
|Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust||14|
|Nottinghamshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust||168|
|Sherwood Forest Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust||1|
|United Lincolnshire Hospitals NHS Trust||75|
|University Hospitals of Derby and Burton NHS Foundation Trust||6|
|University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust||1|
|Basildon and Thurrock University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust||3|
|Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust||15|
|East and North Hertfordshire NHS Trust||317|
|Mid Essex Hospital Services NHS Trust||1|
|NHS Norwich CCG||14|
|Southend University Hospital NHS Foundation Trust||35|
|West Hertfordshire Hospitals NHS Trust||1|
|Bradford District Care NHS Foundation Trust||1|
|Bradford Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust||26|
|Calderdale and Huddersfield NHS Foundation Trust||2|
|Hull University Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust||190|
|Humber Teaching NHS Foundation Trust||103|
|Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust||1|
|Mid Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust||7|
|Rotherham NHS Foundation Trust||21|
|Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust||110|
|York Teaching Hospital NHS Foundation Trust||100|
|Hampshire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust||1|
|Isle of Wight NHS Trust||3|
|Portsmouth Hospitals NHS Trust||1|
|Royal Bournemouth and Christchurch Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust||2|
|Southern Health NHS Foundation Trust||86|
|University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation Trust||48|
|Buckinghamshire Healthcare NHS Trust||4|
|Milton Keynes University Hospital NHS Foundation Trust||0|
|NHS East Berkshire CCG||1|
|Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust||19|
|Royal Berkshire NHS Foundation Trust||79|
|Chelsea and Westminster Hospital NHS Foundation Trust||63|
|London North West University Healthcare NHS Trust||1|
|King's College Hospital NHS Foundation Trust||81|
|Lewisham and Greenwich NHS Trust||20|
|South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust||191|
|St George's University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust||55|
|Barking, Havering and Redbridge University Hospitals NHS Trust||37|
|Barnet, Enfield and Haringey Mental Health NHS Trust||1|
|Barts Health NHS Trust||428|
|Camden and Islington NHS Foundation Trust||338|
|East London NHS Foundation Trust||197|
|Great Ormond Street Hospital For Children NHS Foundation Trust||117|
|Royal Free London NHS Foundation Trust||142|
|University College London Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust||10|
|Brighton and Sussex University Hospitals NHS Trust||85|
|Dartford and Gravesham NHS Trust||5|
|East Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust||96|
|Frimley Health NHS Foundation Trust||15|
|Kent and Medway NHS and Social Care Partnership Trust||188|
|Medway NHS Foundation Trust||106|
|Royal Surrey County Hospital NHS Foundation Trust||1|
|Surrey and Borders Partnership NHS Foundation Trust||28|
|Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust||94|
|Western Sussex Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust||19|
|City Hospitals Sunderland NHS Foundation Trust||12|
|Newcastle Upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust||122|
|North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust||5|
|Northumberland, Tyne and Wear NHS Foundation Trust||110|
|Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust||14|
|South Tees Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust||61|
|South Tyneside NHS Foundation Trust||56|
|Tees, Esk and Wear Valleys NHS Foundation Trust||1|
|Aintree University Hospital NHS Foundation Trust||64|
|Blackpool Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust||302|
|Bolton NHS Foundation Trust||1|
|Cheshire and Wirral Partnership NHS Foundation Trust||88|
|Christie NHS Foundation Trust||2|
|Cumbria Partnership NHS Foundation Trust||3|
|East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Trust||151|
|Future Directions CIC||5|
|Greater Manchester Mental Health NHS Foundation Trust||22|
|Lancashire Care NHS Foundation Trust||119|
|Lancashire Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust||25|
|Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust||28|
|Mersey Care NHS Foundation Trust||102|
|Mid Cheshire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust||96|
|North Cumbria University Hospitals NHS Trust||86|
|North West Ambulance Service NHS Trust||153|
|Pennine Acute Hospitals NHS Trust||58|
|Royal Liverpool and Broadgreen University Hospitals NHS Trust||75|
|Salford Royal NHS Foundation Trust||164|
|Southport and Ormskirk Hospital NHS Trust||77|
|St Helens and Knowsley Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust||47|
|Stockport NHS Foundation Trust||26|
|University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust||130|
|Birmingham and Solihull Mental Health NHS Foundation Trust||89|
|Burton Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust||1|
|Dudley Group NHS Foundation Trust||11|
|George Eliot Hospital NHS Trust||21|
|North Staffordshire Combined Healthcare NHS Trust||2|
|Sandwell and West Birmingham Hospitals NHS Trust||14|
|University Hospitals Coventry and Warwickshire NHS Trust||1|
|Worcestershire Health and Care NHS Trust||20|
|Wye Valley NHS Trust||14|
|Avon and Wiltshire Mental Health Partnership NHS Trust||1|
|Devon Partnership NHS Trust||51|
|Gloucestershire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust||25|
|Great Western Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust||4|
|NHS Gloucestershire CCG||8|
|Royal Devon and Exeter NHS Foundation Trust||44|
|Somerset Partnership NHS Foundation Trust||78|
|Taunton and Somerset NHS Foundation Trust||25|
|Torbay and South Devon NHS Foundation Trust||5|
|University Hospitals Bristol NHS Foundation Trust||14|
|Yeovil District Hospital NHS Foundation Trust||1|
|Health Education England||136|
|NHS Business Services Authority||2|
|NHS North East London CSU||79|
|NHS North of England Commissioning Support Unit||60|
|NHS Property Services Limited||219|