STRESS is the biggest cause of absences among north Cumbria’s NHS staff, it has been revealed.

Members of Cumberland Council's health overview and scrutiny committee heard an update report at a meeting at Cumbria House on Thursday (April 18).

David Allen, North Cumbria Integrated Care (NCIC) NHS Foundation Trust's assistant directors of people's services, gave the update on staff occupational health and wellbeing.

His presentation included the results from the National Staff Survey 2023 which related to how workers felt about their work.

The trust employs 6,500 full time equivalent staff, as well as 1,500 bank and agency staff, and there were 3,242 responses to the survey.

According to the results, 54.3 per cent of respondents said they were satisfied with the opportunities for flexible working, 57.2 per cent had a good work/home life balance and 52.6 per cent felt the organisation took a positive action on health and wellbeing.

However, almost half of the respondents reported coming to work despite not feeling well enough to perform their duties, 23 per cent said they often found their work emotionally exhausting, 80 per cent reported their work frustrated them and 45 per cent said reported that every working hour was tiring for them.

Mr Allen said there was still work to do and, where possible, early interventions were put in place to stop people getting sick.

He said that stress was the biggest factor why staff were off sick and the trust had a Better Heath At Work Award – initially gaining Gold standard and later an excellent rating.

He said: "Stress will probably always remain the highest factor."

Mr Allen referred to the survey and said the results depended on who completed the form and if the majority were unhappy at work then the results could be "skewed". He added: "We try to work as flexibly as we can."

Councillor Helen Davison (Belah, Green Party) referred to the percentage of those who reported for work who were not well enough to do so and said burnout could have an impact on the quality of care. She added: "How does the trust compare with other trusts? How well is it doing or not?"

Mr Allen said he did not have the data to hand but said they were not "terrible" and added: "[Is it time for] complacency? No, it's not. I'd like to see us at the top of the pack."

Members noted the contents of the report.