What’s this CSP campaign all about?
We know from members and CSP reps across the UK that workplace pressures are currently affecting them, whether in the NHS or elsewhere.
Rather than struggling alone, we want to get you thinking about what you can do to support each other – and to help find improvements that could alleviate these problems.
Is this really the most important issue in the workplace?
Yes. Our advice from reps on the ground is that it is, with a potential impact on how clinical services are delivered.
This workplace campaign is based on a motion debated and passed unanimously at the 2015 CSP Annual Representative Conference. This recognised the increasing level of work-related stress among members. It called for a national standardised survey to establish the extent of the problem and identify common themes among members.
It also called for a national campaign to help representatives and members address the causes of work-related stress and how to manage it.
CSP organisers have been visiting NHS workplaces and listening to your reps’ concerns about issues they are having to deal with more than most. As a result, we are aware that work pressures are a big issue among our members, particularly those working in the NHS, as they struggle to cope with high workloads, reduced resources and support during difficult times.
The impact of constant change and reorganisation in the NHS is also taking its toll on many members as they face uncertainty regarding their future employment.
But stress is normal – and it can be positive, can’t it?
Yes, it can be. At times, a bit of pressure can help us to perform at our best. But prolonged exposure to stress, if it is demoralising or distressing to the person, can lead to serious deterioration in their physical and mental health.
For England alone, NHS Employers say stress-related illnesses accounts for about 30 per cent of NHS sickness absence. A recent freedom of information request showed that, among 100 hospital trusts in England, doctors, nurses and other frontline staff took 845,966 sick days for stress, anxiety or depression in 2014-15 – a rise of 227,471 days since 2011-12. See bit.ly/1IGcuUN
A 2014 survey by NHS Employers, Staff Experience and Patient Outcomes, highlighted the links between how staff feel about their work (including levels of stress and work pressure) and the outcomes for their patients. See bit.ly/2gBURLS
Isn’t it just the nature of the workplace, that we’re all under more stress these days and there’s really not much we can do about it?
Working under constant stress is likely to take its toll on everyone eventually, due to the ensuing higher sickness absence rates. According to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), which enforces health and safety, the average length of sick leave in the UK for a stress-related illness is 30.1 days.
A separate report, the Office for National Statistics 2014-15 Labour Force Survey, almost 10 million days working days were lost in the UK economy through stress-related illness.
Meanwhile in the NHS, stress-related illnesses put further strain on the remaining staff and organisation to cover the work with less time and fewer resources.
CSP reps with their knowledge and networks can help members and employers to identify and seek more constructive ways to address unsustainable workloads. Active involvement of staff in decision making is a vital first step to resolving work-related stress.
For example, ensuring staff have sufficient time to complete patient notes would alleviate pressures and could improve morale and job satisfaction.
This campaign looks expensive - surely the problem is that the NHS has no money?
The investment we put into raising awareness of the impact of stress should actually assist in saving money. It could mean fewer staff going off sick and needing to be replaced by agency staff, who are more expensive.
Importantly, it will help show members the value of being members of the Society, and working collectively as they seek and find workable solutions to relieving workplace pressures.
Will the campaign help patients?
Yes, the 2014 research from NHS Employers, cited earlier, has shown that when NHS organisations actively engage with staff to improve their health and wellbeing this will lead to higher levels of patient satisfaction.
How can I get involved?
If you work in the NHS and have a workplace steward or safety rep, talk to them about the campaign and how to get others at your work actively involved.
I work outside the NHS - will the campaign have an impact on me too?
This campaign is for all our members who are encountering unreasonable work pressures and are actively seeking effective relief, wherever they work.
Visit the CSP website www.csp.org.uk/pressure where you will find our advice sheets on the key causes of stress and what you can do.
If you are aware that you are not alone and that several colleagues at your workplace are experiencing stress our new easy to use survey resource pack (available on the same web page) should help you provide evidence to your employer that there is a problem requiring their attention.
There are also excellent information pages and resources on managing stress at work provided by the HSE, which can be accessed on its website at www.hse.gov.uk/stress
If you would like further support and advice, contact the CSP’s enquiries team on 020 7306 6666.
I work in the NHS but I don’t have a CSP workplace rep – what should I do?
Talk to colleagues about electing a rep. However, it is important for everybody to get behind this campaign and support each other by organising and attending your CSP meetings or helping out your rep (if you elect one) through offering to do any tasks that may be required. To find out how to become a rep, visit www.csp.org.uk/workplace
I am a manager – how does the campaign affect me?
Working with your CSP reps in partnership should greatly assist you in engaging staff to be more actively involved in effective problem-solving. You can work towards shared decision-making to address any concerns staff may have with their workloads, if that is an issue in your workplace.
So what should I do to find out more?
Our online resource pack www.csp.org.uk/pressure is simple to use and should help you in identifying the work pressures among your colleagues. It could help you to provide sufficient evidence to put in front of your employer if there is a problem that requires their attention. The CSP will work with you in your endeavours to improve working conditions. fl