PRESS RELEASE: NHS staff reporting being unwell due to work related stress hit a record high as doctors say this should be a red flag for the government



The number of NHS staff reporting being unwell due to work related stress has increased yet again this year. In the NHS staff survey reported today over 40% of staff reported feeling unwell due to work related stress. The number has been steadily rising since 2016.

Worryingly the number of NHS staff who reported personally experiencing discrimination at work in the last 12 months has increased yet again. In particular, staff reporting discrimination at work from patients, relatives or members have the public has increased for the fifth year in a row, a 24% increase compared to 2015. Being from an ethnic minority group was given as the most common reason for discrimination.

Frontline doctors have often given this as a key reason for poor morale in the NHS, however the impact of discrimination is more wide reaching and may have an impact on career progression. It is concerning that only 71.2% of BME staff said their organisation provides equal opportunities for career progression / promotion compared to 86.9% of white respondents. Similar trends were also seen amongst staff with disabilities.

Dr Rinesh Parmar, Chair of The Doctors’ Association UK and an anaesthetic doctor said:

“Whilst there have been many improvements seen in the NHS Staff Survey we are extremely concerned that staff are reporting increasing levels of discrimination, in particular from patients, relatives and members of the public. BAME doctors make up a valued part of our workforce, as do International Medical Graduates, without which the NHS would collapse. Many BME doctors have told us they do not feel welcome in the UK anymore and there is no doubt this a reflection of this government’s hostile environment. We must do more to value BAME staff as well as those who have trained abroad, without whom the NHS would simply cease to function.”

Dr Samantha Batt-Rawden, Co-Founder of DAUK and an intensive care doctor said:

“It is extremely worrying that nearly half of all respondents to the NHS staff survey reported feeling unwell with stress just in the last 12 months. The fact that this number is rising year on year should be red flag to this government, especially at time when the NHS is short of 100,000 frontline staff.  Doctors have repeatedly told us they do not feel cared for by their workplaces, and that spiralling workloads are contributing to occupational stress and burnout. Too often ‘wellness’ interventions such as yoga and mindfulness are put forward to try and address this but these programmes will not fix the core issue. What NHS staff need are real improvements to their working conditions if the government has any hope of stemming the haemorrhage of staff out the NHS.”


1.     The Doctors’ Association UK (DAUK) is a trade association for UK doctors. Run by frontline NHS doctors, DAUK campaigns for patients and the NHS as well as advocating for the medical profession.

2.     Results of the NHS staff survey published Tuesday 18th February. The national briefing document can be found here.

3.     Last week The Doctors’ Association UK collated over 600 stories from frontline doctors about mistreatment whilst working in the NHS. A selection of these stories were published  as the front page story of the Daily Mirror. Further stories can be given on request.