United Kingdom National Work-Stress Network

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What's New 28.07.15

Please note that there is now an even more compelling reason to book your place on the Hazards Congerence 2015. Please read the information below

Stress Network Annual Conference 2015

Workplace-Stress - What Cost ?

11th May 2015. Please note there has been a revision made to the booking form and the links below now lead to the new forms, thank you

Saturday November 28th to Sunday November 29th 2015 at the Hillscourt Conference, Centre, Rednal, Birmingham B45 8RS

The financial costs of stress in the workplace have been revealed by recent research as almost £700 million a year in 'wasted' wages. Stress Awareness Day (4th November) highlights the costs to individuals, to workplaces and the economy. Almost a quarter of all workers report stress as the main cause of sickness absence. Regularly every year the Labour Force Survey in UK shows that over 500,000 workers are affected by stress in their workplace. Across the continent the problem continues to develop and the EU Labour Force Survey shows some 55.6 million workers confirmed that their mental well-being was affected by exposure to psycho-social risks. Too little time and too much work remain the most commonly quoted risk factors (23%). The most common effects of this stress is increased levels of depression and anxiety, and associated mental health problems as well as physical injury brought about by inability to concentrate effectively.

For preliminary booking information and more details follow these links. For a leaflet in Word® select this link for a copy in pdf select this link

Hazards Conference 2015

Safety Reps: Reclaiming the Health and Safety Agenda,

This annual conference will be held at Keele University, Stoke-on-Trent between 04-06 September 2015.

It's two weeks since the terrible result of another 5 years of Tory government, cutting and slashing our health and safety and workers rights as 'red tape' and 'burdens on business'. We've all had some time to grieve, drown our sorrows and think and now is the time to regroup, and time to fight back, to educate, organise and agitate for what we want: the right to safe and healthy work and to come home every day alive and well.

Safety reps it's time to reclaim the health and safety agenda, so time to book your place at the Hazards 2015 Conference! Registrations are picking up fast, so get your application in soon and please don't forget the sponsorship appeal too!

National Hazards Conference, is the once a year chance to meet safety reps form all union, all types of workplace for all over the UK, to exchange ideas and get inspired. As ever, the conference organised by the Hazards Campaign will have top headline speakers and workshops that will give you the knowledge and tools to make workplaces safer and healthier. Topics covered include safety reps and organising, finding out what is harming members, making the most of the enforcement system, and dealing with risks. The event is union-supported.

For more information you can their website here or alternatively see the booking form here

If you or your organisation wish to sponsor this important conference you can download the information here

Network Facebook Page Update

Dear all This is just to tell you that we have a new "public access" Facebook page for the Stress Network to replace the old one which was restricted to Facebook members only. There isn't any real content there yet but please bear with us and we'll get there in due course!. Our old Facebook page will continue to run for some time with the existing material on it until everything is up and running properly, but we would welcome any new comments and postings made on the new page from now on.

The new URL is: http://www.facebook.com/pages/UK-National-Workstress-Network/867168546685776

Midwife suffered two work stress breakdowns

Taken from TUC Risks 708, 27 June 3025

A former senior midwife suffered two breakdowns caused by stress at work. Royal College of Midwives (RCM) member Angela Jommo, 58, worked for South London Healthcare NHS Trust after being headhunted for a clinical midwifery manager post at Queen Mary's Hospital in Sidcup, London. In her first two years in post a series of redundancies left her effectively acting as head of midwifery, with extra workload and responsibility. The strain led to a breakdown in 2006. On her return to work in 2007 after several months off, she continued in her original post as clinical midwifery manager but had regular meetings with her new line manager to discuss work-related stresses and concerns. In 2009 it was announced that the South London Healthcare NHS Trust was to merge with two nearby Trusts and that Angela's maternity unit was to close. The change led to extra duties being added to her already demanding workload. Angela found herself working 12-14 hour days and using her spare time and weekends to complete administrative work. She told senior management about the lack of resources but was ignored, and ended up having to take on more responsibility, which ultimately led to another breakdown in 2010. The second breakdown meant that she lost her job and felt forced into taking early retirement at the age of 55. Lawyers brought in by RCM found that Angela's employer had failed to follow its own occupational health advice, disregarding warning signs of overwork that may cause another breakdown. A 'significant' compensation payout was negotiated on Angela's behalf. Angela said: "I was failed by my employer. I have been forced to give up a job I loved, a career I thrived in because my management refused to actually look at the bigger picture and see the immense problems facing the maternity unit and its staff." RCM's Suzanne Tyler said: "It is extremely sad that Angela was forced to give up her successful career in midwifery because she was pushed beyond what was reasonable to expect her to cope with."

Stressed social workers face courts trauma

Taken from TUC Risks 708, 27 June 3025

Heavy workloads are leaving more than nine in ten (90 per cent) social workers stressed and without enough time to prepare for court cases involving vulnerable children and families, according to a new report from UNISON. Half the social workers questioned (49 per cent) admitted they were not confident when appearing before a judge, with most concerned about the consequences of having their identity revealed in court. The report, 'Social work, the courts and the consequences of transparency', compiled a year after new guidance about open family courts was issued by the government, found that four in five (80 per cent) social workers would consider leaving the profession if they thought they would suffer as a result of being named in court. The union points to official figures that show a 50 per cent rise in the number of social workers leaving the profession in the last two years. While this is not solely down to stressful court work, UNISON says, it believes that publicly naming those involved in contentious cases could force more to quit. UNISON general secretary Dave Prentis said: "If social workers feel under pressure and are worried about being publicly pilloried they will not be able to perform to the best of their ability and their clients are likely to suffer. This is an issue that is obviously having a major impact and needs to be addressed before we lose more social workers - something the UK can ill afford."He added: "We are calling on all employers to agree to protect social workers from what is potentially a very damaging situation. Local authorities must also exercise their duty of care with better handling of any media attention and providing staff with appropriate legal support."

Canada: Manitoba gets presumptive stress law

Taken from TUC Risks 707 20 June 2015

The government of Manitoba in Canada is amending its Workers Compensation Act to recognise post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) as an occupational disease. "This legislation would be unique in Canada and would truly support workers who experience a traumatic event or events in the workplace that lead to PTSD," said provincial premier Greg Selinger. "Under this new law, the Workers Compensation Board would presume their condition was caused by the job, making it much easier to access supports, treatment and compensation" Michelle Gawronsky, president of the Manitoba Government and General Employees' Union (MGEU/NUPGE), commented: "We represent a broad cross section of workers in different occupations and as such we have learned that psychological injuries can happen to absolutely anyone regardless of what they do for a living." She added: "I believe we were the first organisation to bring this idea forward on behalf of our members and I'm very glad, at the end of the day, to be able to stand here with all the partners and recognise all workers, regardless of what uniform they wear or what job they do." The amendments extend coverage and benefits to all workers eligible under WCB who are diagnosed with PTSD by a medical professional. This would ensure timely access to compensation and support services, with the long-term goal of reducing the stigma attached to mental illness. Kevin Rebeck, president of the Manitoba Federation of Labour (MfL), said: "PTSD is a real threat to working people. Any improvements in their access to support is welcome news."

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Dying to Work campaign for the Midlands

Taken from TUC Risks 704 30 May 2015

Workers with terminal illnesses need employment protection and support, unions in the Midlands have said. A new Dying to Work campaign in the region was launched after unions highlighted a loophole in the law that allows firms to dispense with dying workers because of their illness (Risks 703) The campaign was launched at the May meeting of the Midlands TUC Regional Council. Some 70 union delegates came together to raise the profile of the campaign and pledge to promote the initiative. Midlands TUC regional secretary, Lee Barron, said: "People often say that somethings are right and left. Well this is not. This is about right or wrong. Too many people are being put in the appalling situation of fighting for their right to work whilst coming to terms with their terminal illness." He added: "This campaign may take time. But the morality of the cause cannot be questioned and the Midlands TUC, along with our supporters will keep on fighting for the rights, dignity and respect that terminally ill workers deserve"

College staff worn out by work

Working in further education has become increasingly stressful over the past six years with staff worn down by constant change, says a report has concluded. 'Taking its toll: rising stress levels in further education' used the Health and Safety Executive"s stress management indicators and found the proportion of staff who agreed or strongly agreed with the statement 'I find my job stressful' rose to 87 per cent in 2014, up from 78 per cent in 2012 and 74 per cent in 2008. The survey of 2,250 staff working in further education'colleges was carried out by Professor Gail Kinman and Siobhan Wray for the University and College Union (UCU). They found that 2014, 62 per cent of respondents reported they often or always experienced levels of stress they found unacceptable, compared to 45 per cent in 2012 and 40 per cent in 2008. Nearly nine out of ten (89 per cent) agreed they usually felt worn out after the working day. UCU general secretary, Sally Hunt, said: "It is clear that working in further education has become more stressful with every passing year. The report details how a lack of stability in the sector is one of the main causes of huge stress for staff. The sector and the people who work in it desperately need some stability." She added: "For the first time we explored the problems with the constant changes staff have to deal with and we found that more than two-thirds of staff said too many changes had been introduced in their institution." The union leader warned: "The survey shows a stressful working environment is taking its toll on college staff mentally and physically, with high numbers reporting unacceptable levels of psychological distress and exhaustion. This report sets out mid and long-term targets for colleges to alleviate stress and they should not be ignored."

Most paramedics are stressed out

Taken from TUC Risks 698 18 April 2015

Long hours, staff shortages and the mental demands of the job are placing an enormous burden on ambulance workers, with nine in ten (91 per cent) saying they are suffering with stress, according to new UNISON research. The survey of 2,977 ambulance workers found that three-quarters (74 per cent) are suffering with sleep problems, 72 per cent said they felt irritable as a result and experienced mood swings, and more than half (56 per cent) suffer with anxiety. More than a third (38 per cent) said they had to take time off sick because of work-related stress and a quarter (26 per cent) admitted they were close to doing so. Almost three in five (58 per cent) admitted they did not tell their employer the reason they were off sick was stress. Only 6 per cent said they would talk to a manager or a supervisor about it. As a result of pressures on the service and workers, a 'huge' four in five (82 per cent) admitted they had thought about leaving the job, the union said. UNISON is concerned that employers are not fulfilling their duty of care as more than half of the respondents said they were unaware of any steps being taken by their employer to remove or reduce stress. UNISON head of health Christina McAnea said: "Working in emergency services is stressful but the pressure on ambulance staff is reaching dangerously high levels. It is unacceptable that the current system doesn't allow for proper breaks between shifts. Workers have told us they often work 14-hour shifts without a decent break." She added: "The pressure on workers is mounting and the apparent lack of support from their employers means they are suffering in silence. Year after year the levels of stress remain unacceptably high and yet neither employers nor the government have done anything to address this. It is no wonder areas such as London are now having to go to the other side of the world to recruit paramedics."

You can read a longer report in The Guardian by following this link to their website

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NHS stress: a third of GPs plan to retire in next five years

A third of GPs in the UK plan to retire in the next five years because of high stress levels, unmanageable workloads and too little time with patients, in a move that would exacerbate the existing difficulty of getting an appointment. A poll of 15,560 GPs by the British Medical Association (BMA) has found that 34% intend to stop working by 2020, with many others going part-time, moving abroad or even abandoning medicine altogether. The findings thrust the issue of GP numbers into the election spotlight as the BMA accused the political parties of making 'absurd' promises to tackle what it called a 'crisis' and of ignoring the reasons why NHS general practice is facing a worsening shortage of medics.

Dr Chaand Nagpaul, chair of the BMA's GPs committee, said: "It is clear that incredible pressures on GP services are at the heart of this problem, with escalating demand having far outstripped capacity. GPs are overworked and intensely frustrated that they do not have enough time to spend with their patients, especially the increasing numbers of older people with multiple and complex problems who need specialised care."

Most of the GPs who said they would retire were over the age of 50. The BMA said the fact that 36% of GPs aged 50-54 and 5% of those between 41 and 49 said the same thing underlines that a significant number of those quitting will be taking early retirement because they are disillusioned and worn down. The research, conducted by the polling firm ICM, also concluded that the 82% of those aged 60 or over and 79% of 55-59 year olds who said they intended to stop working suggest that some of the loss of personnel will be through natural wastage.

Politicians have seized on the figures. Andrew Gwynne, a Labour shadow health minister, said: "David Cameron has caused a new GP recruitment crisis. Thousands are retiring early in despair, making it even harder to get an appointment." The party has pledged to hire 8,000 GPs extra by 2020, paid for by its planned £2.5bn a year Time to Care fund.

Hospital staff absences for mental health reasons double

Figures obtained by the BBC revealed 41,112 staff were off sick with anxiety, stress and depression in 2014 - up from 20,207 in 2010. NHS England said it needed to do more to support staff. The Royal College of Nursing said the figures reflected the "relentless pressure" staff were under. The NHS employs 1.25 million people across all of its services throughout the country. A spokesman for the NHS said: "Our staff are some of the most hard-working and dedicated people in our country. We now have record numbers of nurses and other front-line professionals, but the NHS needs to become better at supporting staff -- not least because better staff experience leads to better patient care." NHS Employers, the organisation which represents its managers, added it was doing more to support staff.

For more details on this report please visit the BBC News article

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Austerity measures create unsustainable stress

Cuts to local authority budgets are having a profound effect on the services people receive and are leaving the staff delivering them facing "unsustainable stress", a report from the Joseph Rowntree Foundation has found. The charity's research, examining the impact of government "austerity measures", found the poorest communities and residents are being hardest hit and those least able to cope with service withdrawal are bearing the brunt. The report also noted "...frontline staff within local authorities are working very hard to cushion service-users from the worst impacts of the cuts, principally by taking on expanded workloads " It added: "The level of stress this entails does not appear sustainable in the longer term and in many areas staff report feeling overwhelmed by the scale and nature of the problems they are dealing with. At the same time as their organisations are shedding staff, they find needs increasing. At least some of these needs result from the cuts in welfare benefits which are creating a depth or intensity of problems which organisations have not faced before."

To read the full report please visit the Joseph Rowntree Foundation Website

European companies honoured for commitment to stress management

Over 100 European companies and federations have been honoured after volunteering to become official campaign partners of the 'Healthy Workplaces Manage Stress'..EU-OSHA, the European Agency for Safety and Health at Work, paid tribute to the organisations and honoured them with a ceremony that was held as part of a two-day 'Benchmarking event on Occupational Safety and Health' in Brussels from 5-6 March.

For further information please visit the SHP website by following this link

Scottish mental health staff feel the pressure

Scottish mental health staff are working under increasing stress, says a new UNISON report, with 84% saying their workload has increased, and 76% reporting cuts that affect the quality of patient care. The findings, which cover the last three years, come in the report See Us, which looked at the experience of workers across mental health services in the NHS, local government and the community and voluntary sector. It brings together work carried out by UNISON Scotland among members delivering Scotland's mental health services in acute wards, the community, working for the NHS, local authorities and the third sector, and gives voice to the concerns they have in their working life and for the services they provide. Staff said that cuts in mental health services often go under the radar. They reported that " it is difficult to recruit and retain staff and jobs do not get refilled" as "staff are leaving and not being replaced, or if replaced their position is downgraded" They also reported a freeze on vacant posts for both nursing and social care, with jobs being regraded and advertised at a lower levels so as to save money

For further information please visit the UNISON website by following this link

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Conference 2014

We have now posted information about our 2014 conference and it is available on the Annual Conferences page. There is a conference report as well as copies of presentations from the Plenary sessions

Prison Officers' Association Stress Survey report

We were pleased to welcome delegates from the POA again to our conference in 2014. They have followed this up by providing us with a copy of the POA recent research project carried out for them by University of Bedford (see the news article below). It is available in the Downloads section of the website. Many thanks to POA for their continued support for our work.

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Workers "hiding stress and depression"

Huge numbers of workers are hiding mental health conditions from their employers because they fear it will affect their career, according to a new report published today. A survey of 2,000 adults by insurers Friends Life showed that two out of five have suffered from stress, anxiety or depression in the past year and not told their boss.More than one in four of those surveyed said they had taken a day off sick and claimed that it was for a physical rather than mental health problem. The most common cause of stress was excessive workload, followed by frustration with poor management and long working hours, the study found. More than half of those polled said their career prospects would be damaged if they were open about stress or anxiety. Younger workers were more likely to suffer from depression, anxiety or stress, said the report.

Friends Life group chief executive Andy Briggs said: "Our research shows that there is still much to be done in tackling mental health issues in the workplace."

One in 10 social workers "would quit" over stress

Social workers "Under huge pressure"

The stress of ' sharing people's misery' and the dangers of inexperienced staff are leading many social workers to want to quit the profession, a study says. Nearly one in 10 UK social workers (8%) are considering leaving the job, with over a fifth of these blaming stress or unmanageable caseloads, it adds. Many blame poor management and too little time with clients. Community Care magazine and recruitment firm TMP surveyed 2,100 social workers and carried out 20 in-depth interviews. The research suggests social work has become more demanding, with 94% of those surveyed saying there is more day-to-day pressure on social workers than ever before.


One interviewee said: "My stress levels are perpetually too high and my mental and physical health suffers as a result. Most nights I wake up in the night worrying about work I have not had time to do. I struggle to enjoy life outside work as I'm so exhausted."
Another said: "I love social work but sharing people's misery is becoming too much." The survey also suggested there was a sense that such high stress levels were ignored by bosses.
One social worker said: "With high caseloads and a lack of support, I feel unable to do a good job." Another added:"There is a consistent disbelief of workers' stress levels, and difficulties in managing such high caseloads."

Culture of blame

Another highlighted problems with the culture of her workplace: "I am sick to death of tokenism, political correctness, and a risk averse, process-led and incompetent management driven only by the need to appease Ofsted." This was reflected by another, who said: "The management structure is top-heavy and the blame culture is still prevalent."

Manager of the British Association of Social Workers England Maris Stratulis said: "Members continue to contact us about poor management and poor support including irregular supervision, limited career development opportunities, and an organisational culture of blame. It is critical that employers engage in open dialogue with social workers on a regular basis. Employers need to walk the floor, talk face to face with social workers, and dig deep about the key issues that social workers are citing as to why their current organisation is not a good place to work."

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More must be done to help people with mental health problems stay in work

Chief medical officer Dame Sally Davies says mental illness cost £100bn last year yet 75% of people received no treatment

Dame Sally Davies said around 70m working days were lost to mental illness in 20013.More help is urgently needed to help people with mental health problems stay in their jobs, says the government's chief medical officer, warning of the toll of mental illness on individuals and the economy.

Dame Sally Davies said that around 70m working days were lost to mental illness in 2013, costing the economy £70 to £100bn. The number of working days lost to stress, depression and anxiety has risen by 24% since 2009, she says in her annual report. Yet 75% of people with diagnosable mental illness get no treatment at all. "The costs of mental illness to the economy are astounding. Through this report, I urge commissioners and decision-makers to treat mental health more like physical health," said Davies. "Anyone with mental illness deserves good quality support at the right time. One of the stark issues highlighted in this report is that 60 to 70% of people with common mental disorders such as depression and anxiety are in work, so it is crucial that we take action to help those people stay in employment to benefit their own health as well as the economy." There is a great need for earlier treatment for children and young people with mental health problems, she said. Half of adult mental illness starts before the age of 15 and 75% by the age of 18. Unless young people get help, they risk a life of problems including unemployment, substance misuse, crime and antisocial behaviour. "Under-investment in mental health services, particularly for young people, simply does not make sense economically," she said.

Mark Winstanley, chief executive of Rethink Mental Illness, said that for many people with mental illness, having a job can be a crucial of managing their condition and staying well."But often people get very little support to go back to work after a period of mental illness, or to stay in employment," he said. "Many employers also assume that if you have a mental health problem, you won't be able to hold down a job." More specialist help to get people with mental illness back into the workplace and greater understanding from employers was needed, he said. But those who were unable to work because of their condition should not be demonised.

Professor Sir Simon Wessely, president of the Royal College of Psychiatrists, agreed with the emphasis on keeping people in work and supported Davies' call for more mental health training for all doctors as well as waiting time and access standards for patients.

Professor Sheila Hollins, chair of the British Medical Association's Board of Science said: "We are encouraged by this report and will continue to call for equal treatment for both physical and mental health patients, the reduction of waiting times for mental health patients, and the introduction of equal funding between mental health services and other NHS services."

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Look Who is Supporting the Network

It's none other than Ricky Tomlinson. Thanks Ricky.

Ricky Tomlinson supports the Stress Network

Help Needed To Test a Stress Information Toolkit

The Institute of Occupational Medicine (IOM) is currently carrying out a project funded by the European Agency for Safety and Health at Work (EU OSHA) to develop an information toolkit on stress and psychosocial risks at work. This important piece of work will eventually be translated into all of the different official languages of the EU and will help the managers and owners of micro and small businesses to understand this topic. Here in the UK, evidence from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) shows that the incidence of lost time due to stress-related problems at work is increasing; and has overtaken musculoskeletal problems as the main cause of sickness absence and a similar pattern can be seen throughout the EU so it is important to get it right.

As part of this work the IOM need to recruit the owners or managers of some small (11-50 employees) and micro (1-10 employees) companies to help evaluate the toolkit content and its usability. This will be done through the use of an online survey questionnaire. If you complete the survey you will be entered in to a draw to win a Kindle or equivalent monetary value donation to charity. In addition to this, as a result of your participation in this work the IOM will ensure that on final completion of the e-guide they will provide you with an updated version.

If you are interested in taking part in this evaluation then please get in touch with the IOM either richard.graveling@iom-world.org or alice.davis@iom-world.org (these e-mail addresses are not active on this page) or visit their website www.iom-world.org/news-events/news/2014/help-the-iom-to-test-a-stress-information-toolkit/

Extended Timeline of Unions in the UK

Trade unions are an integral part of the UK workforce, with the TUC representing 6.2 million trade union members in 2013 across 54 affiliated unions. With such a large number of trade unions in the UK, it can be difficult to learn about each trade union and how they came to be. By utilising design and interactivity, the timeline (click here to go to the website) aims to make information about unions in the UK more accessible

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The Health and Safety of Older Workers- Guidance

A Guide for Workplace Representatives

There is a higher proportion of older people in Britain now than at any time in recent history and it is likely to increase. At present one in every six people is over the age of 65, but by 2033 that is expected to rise to almost one in four. We are also seeing changes in the number of older people in the workplace. The number of people aged 65 and over reached the 1 million mark for the first time in 2013. This is partly because we are living longer but also because birth-rates are falling

This guidance, downloadable using this link, will help workplace representatives accommodate for an ageing workforce

Healthy Working Lives Scotland

Healthy Working Lives are Scotland's national service here to help employers create a safer, healthier and more motivated workforce. We work with all kinds of businesses, completely free of charge, offering practical information and advice to help improve health and safety and the wellbeing of everyone at work.

For further information please go to our Links page

TUC Guide for Safety Reps to Safety and Migrant Workers

This is the introduction from the Online guide

The issue of the safety of migrant workers in the UK became a national issue when at least 23 workers were killed by rising tides while harvesting cockles in Morecambe Bay. Since then there have been a number of further individual tragedies, mainly in agriculture and construction. Unfortunately there are no accurate figures on the number of migrant workers who are killed, injured or made ill through work. However many migrant workers do face specific difficulties and this guide from the TUC has been written to help safety representatives and other union officials work with migrant workers to make sure that their rights are protected.

New Stress Booklet

A new edition of our Work Stress booklet has been published and is available by clicking on the link here

The conference newsletter is now available from our newsletters page.

The Conference page. links to our previous conferences

Health and Safety Executive Bulletins

The HSE publish a Health and Safety Digest on their website weekly and the site is updated daily. For further information visit the What's New section at hse.gov.uk

Come Tweet with us

The Stress Network now has a Twitter page @workstressuk where you can keep up to date and join in conversations

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