HUNDREDS of workers at Oxfordshire’s acute hospitals have admitted to being so stressed at work it has made them physically ill.

Forty one per cent of those who responded to a staff survey at Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust said work-related stress had made them unwell in the last 12 months.

The figures reveal a damning insight into the pressure faced by an ‘inadequate’ front-line work force in the face of a staffing and recruitment crisis, according to union representatives.

A total of 4,538 staff responded to the 2017 survey – 39 per cent of the OUH workforce.

Almost two thirds of respondents also said communication from senior management was not effective, while 76 per cent said senior managers would not act on feedback.

While staff said they were less motivated and less likely to recommend OUH as a place to work or receive treatment compared to the 2016 survey.

Communications officer for Unison Oxford branch, Ian Mckendrick said the survey results did not come as a surprise and had indeed backed anecdotal evidence.

He said: “There’s a staffing crisis and it isn’t being resolved. It’s an inadequate workforce trying to carry a massive load.

“It’s a bit like revving your engine in first gear, with your foot to the floor. At some point your engines going to break.

“The staff just can’t cope with the workload and they tell management but nothing gets done about it so it’s no surprise they don’t feel listened to.”

According to the Care Quality Commission, Oxfordshire NHS acute staff turnover for nursing and midwifery staff, other clinical and non-clinical staff was well above the England average.

As of September 2017 there were 644 advertised vacancies for Oxford Health NHS FT, Oxford University Hospitals NHS FT and Oxfordshire CCG.

All six of Oxfordshire’s MPs have since called for better pay for the county’s key workers to cover the high cost of living in the area – seen as one of the key reasons for the difficulty Trusts have in recruitment and retention of NHS workers.

Chairman of the board at Healthwatch Oxfordshire, prof George Smith, said the number of those becoming unwell through work-related stress was ‘appalling’.

He added that senior management must work with front line staff to improve conditions.

Prof Smith said: “This is absolutely a concern.

“We represent around 670,000 people in this county who are current or prospective clients of the health and social care providers.

“If staff at this organisation have very low moral we have to be concerned.

“If you’re dealing with an organisation where the staff are in the depths of stress to the point of illness then it’s a real worry.”

John Drew, director of improvement and culture at Oxford University Hospitals Foundation Trust, which runs the John Radcliffe Hospital and the Churchill Hospital in Oxford, as well as the Horton General in Banbury, said: “Staff well-being is very important to us at the Trust.

"We appreciate that our staff care deeply about what they do, but are often working in challenging conditions. We have a duty as an employer to make sure that our staff can manage their stress as well as possible, and we’re committed to working together with them on this. Overall, our absence level is below the national average.

“As a direct result of the comments from our staff survey, we recently held several listening events for all staff with our chief executive and some of our board members to further discuss the results.

“The Trust already provides comprehensive health and wellbeing support to all staff, including our Here for Health advice service, our Employee Assistance programme, fast-track services for staff who require physiotherapy, and specific support for those who need it.”