More than 300 ‘overworked’ nurses have killed themselves in seven yearsIvy Madziva
More than 300 ‘overworked’ nurses have killed themselves in seven years.
Lucy de Oliveira and Laura Hyde’s families are among those calling for more mental health help for nurses
The NHS has been told to do more to support its staff after figures revealed more than 300 nurses have taken their own lives in the last seven years.
Stress and exhaustion working in the overstretched NHS as well as a ‘toxic culture’ that leaves nurses afraid to speak out about their mental health has been blamed.
Lucy de Oliveira, 22, died by suicide in 2017 while training in Liverpool.
Her mother Liz, 61, told the Mirror Lucy was afraid mental health issues would be a blot on her record.
Lucy was juggling two other jobs on top of her nursing training when she died, and was struggling to make ends meet.
Her mum said she would have been ‘better off working in McDonald’s’.
She said: ‘Senior staff say “we did it, knuckle down”. It’s like saying, “I worked in a factory at 12”. Just because you did it, it doesn’t make it right.
‘There’s a bullying you wouldn’t expect in the NHS.’
Lucy de Oliveira died at 22 as a trainee nurse
During her training, Lucy wasn’t paid. Her bursary covered her ‘grotty’ accommodation leaving her with £6 to live on a month.
Liz, of Kidderminster, Worcestershire, added: ‘On top of three 12-hour shifts at hospitals she was working at a pizza restaurant and a care home.
‘I can’t bring Lucy back. All I can do is make sure there’s change as a legacy for her.’
Laura Hyde, an A&E nurse at Derriford Hospital, Devon, killed herself aged just 27 in August 2016.
He family is calling on the government to do more to provide mental health training and support for nursing students.
They also want a 24-hour helpline set up at every hospital trust.
Laura’s cousin Liam Barnes, who launched the Laura Hyde Foundation to fight for better support, said: ‘Nurses love caring for people. Laura was selfless.
‘But they are in a constant cycle of trauma.
‘Paediatric nurses are telling parents their children have died.
‘They’re seeing car crash victims and horrific injuries daily. Constantly exposed to regular trauma, they forget to look after themselves.’
Ann Burdett, 51, killed herself in 2016 while working at the Royal Stoke University Hospital.
After two previous suicide attempts she was referred to mental health services on May 19 that year.
Just a week later, she was dead.
Her fiancé Andrew Ward, 49, said: ‘Everybody should be aware of the stress involved in working for the health service.
‘There should be some sort of website or blog within the health service where people can vent their anxieties or give advice to others.
‘It would be a solution if there was a mentor system.’
Shadow Health Secretary Jonathan Ashworth has called for a government inquiry into the ‘alarming’ figures.
He said: ‘Every life lost is a desperate tragedy. The health and wellbeing of NHS staff must never be compromised.’
His call is backed by the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) which said guidance at work was not good enough and conditions were getting worse.
RCN chief Dame Donna Kinnair said: ‘Nursing staff experience high levels of stress, a shortage of colleagues and long working hours.
‘Our members repeatedly say their employers ignore or disregard mental health issues.
‘They feel they “should cope”. We must all redouble our efforts to support nursing staff.’
The figures, from the Office for National Statistics, show 305 nurses killed themselves over the seven year period.
The highest number of suicides recorded was 54 in 2014.
A recent study has shown female nurses are more at risk of suicide than other professions.
Dame Kinnair said: ‘The Government and all NHS bodies must take a detailed look at why female nurses are much more likely to take their lives than male counterparts.’
The Department of Health and Social Care said: ‘The NHS will shortly set out its response to recommendations which will improve mental health support for staff, including access to a dedicated confidential helpline.’
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