ALMOST half of local NHS staff are suffering from stress, new figures have revealed.

Southend, Basildon and Broomfield hospitals revealed up to 44 per cent of staff reported feeling unwell as a result of work-related stress.

The figures were revealed in a report to the hospital’s joint board, along with measures being taken to combat the problem.

The report said: “This needs to be addressed as it is a recurring theme in our staff surveys and local engagement sessions.

“We will explore collaborative initiatives with internal resources and external providers on stress awareness training, mental health workshops, and resilience training.

“It is also key that we develop and increase accessibility particularly for front line staff as that is where the pressure is most felt.”

The hospitals are set to introduce mental health first-aiders for all staff, comprised of staff volunteers.

NHS staff have been faced with unprecedented upheavals during a merger of the three hospitals under NHS changes.

These include moving staff to consolidate services, causing relocation and travel problems for many and fear of redundancies for others.

Staff shortages have also meant extra burdens for many hard-pressed medics and support staff.

A spokesman for the Save Southend NHS campaign group, said: “Through the course of our campaigning and meetings with staff, stress is an increasingly common discussion.

“The main issues they have commented on are increasing workloads, decreasing staff numbers and the pressure to deliver high standards of care which meet requirements with a huge lack of resources And lack of support from the senior management. Many comment they would love to leave the health profession and that is hugely sad to hear. Who cares for the carers?”

Sam Older Unison Eastern regional organiser said: “We welcome the trust’s commitment to helping staff deal with stress, but this really is a problem that’s endemic within the health service.

“A decade of cuts to the NHS are taking a massive toll on staff, it’s no wonder that stress is now the number one reason NHS employees go off sick.”

“It will take more than sticking plaster solutions such as first aid volunteers to solve this crisis in our health service. We need a Government prepared to invest properly in mental health services and the rest of the NHS.”

Danny Hariram, chief people & organisational development director, at the trusts, said: “We are addressing stress reported in our workforce through developing and increasing access to support, such as stress awareness training, mental health workshops and resilience training.

“We are also training mental health first aiders across the Mid and South Essex University Hospitals Group.”