More than 33,000 days of work were lost at the NHS trust which runs Ipswich and Colchester hospitals last year because of stress, new figures have shown.

According to data published by NHS Digital, 33,900 full-time equivalent days were lost due to stress-related absences in the year to June at East Suffolk and North Essex NHS Foundation Trust (ESNEFT).

The overall number of absences across the board is 176,700 which means, proportionally, stress contributed to one in five staff absences in a single 12-month period.

That proportion represents an increase in the number of stress-related absences recorded in 2021-22, when the proportion stood at 18.4%.

The national level of stress-related absence at the NHS, however, sits at 23.9%.

The figures cover all professionally qualified clinical staff, clinical support staff, and infrastructure support staff who were absent due to anxiety, stress, depression or other psychiatric illnesses.

In August, medical director at the NHS Suffolk and North East Essex Integrated Care Board, Andrew Kelso, said colleagues had been left burned out because of the pressures.

Addressing the high rates of stress-related absences, Kate Read, ESNEFT's director of people and organisational development, said the trust is doing its best to help its employees.

She said: “We are working hard to support the health and wellbeing of our staff.

"We recognise that the last few years have been challenging and there has been a national increase in levels of stress and depression following the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We’ve an ESNEFT Wellbeing Hub which brings together a huge range of services so colleagues can access fast, effective support for their wellbeing whenever they need it, and this includes specialist support for both work-related and non work-related stress.

“We have clinical psychologists as part of our wellbeing team who identify staff and teams who may need extra support to stay well but can also step-in and help colleagues who are experiencing stress-related illness.

“We are also seeing more staff now feeling comfortable to report being off with mental health issues than previously, and this means we can offer them the right support.”