Staggering nurse suicide rates have led to the government carrying out an urgent inquiry into such alarming figures after cries for help were repeatedly ignored. The Office of National Statistics stated that over 300 nurses in England and Wales took their own lives between 2011 and 2017.
Now, NHS leaders have had to take this matter seriously and question why nurse suicide rates in the UK are 23% higher than the national average, and in particular, female nurses, seemingly at higher risk.
The RCN claim their nurse members had highlighted their fears and concerns about mental health issues to their employers and they were either ignored or not taken seriously. They also state that nurses have long been considered a key high-risk group for suicide because of the workload they have to manage and the nature and strain of the job.
The data released this year in 2019 led to Labour’s shadow health secretary, Jonathan Ashworth, to call for the government to examine the data and urge ministers to respond appropriately to an urgent inquiry. He suggested that the wellbeing of NHS nurses should be a national priority.
A spokesperson for the Department of Health and Social Care has said they will shortly respond to the recommendations as part of the forthcoming workforce implementation plan.
Some of those suggestions include a confidential 24-hour mental health support service, fast-tracked mental health referrals for NHS employees and more adequate rest areas for on-call staff. In addition, each NHS trust would have access to an NHS workforce wellbeing guardian whose role it would be to drive forward a wellbeing initiative for NHS employees and ensure positive change is made in these areas.
The future of the nursing profession
So, what does this mean for the nursing profession in the years to come? Or anyone considering a career in healthcare? These statistics would surely be a deterrent for someone who wants to follow their ambition of fulfilling a nursing career path?
Not only that, but many nurses go into the caring profession because they love their job and want to make a difference to peoples’ lives but how can they continue to do that when nurse stress levels and burnout are on the increase and very little so far, has been done to support the nursing profession in this area.
If you are looking for a career change, I support healthcare professionals with all aspects of their career – from exploring options to fine-tuning perfect answers to typical questions at interview, and if you feel that your nursing career path is no longer one you wish to follow but you want to look at alternative NHS career choices, please do get in touch. Alternatively, https://www.healthcareers.nhs.uk/working-health is a fantastic site for exploring other NHS jobs.
I can help you to refocus on what your values and beliefs are, help you to examine your strengths and weakness and explore new possibilities and options of other healthcare careers.
No job role is ever worth sacrificing our life for and these incredibly sad nurse suicide rates have to stop. Let’s hope the NHS leaders make this a priority as they say, because we need committed and dedicated NHS nurses to support our amazing organization, but an alternative career path may become the only option for some people.
Please do get in touch for a free 30-minute no obligation chat to see if I can support you with your career.
Additionally, I also offer resilience coaching and can create a programme to help equip you with better coping skills to manage stress and improve your wellbeing.