WHO NURSES THE NURSES: 226,000 nursing and midwifery days lost to mental ill health last year

By Bill Heaney

Scottish Liberal Democrat leader and health spokesperson Alex Cole-Hamilton MSP has today criticised the Scottish Government for failing to combat pressures faced by nurses and midwives, as he revealed that 226,885 days of nursing and midwifery staff time were lost to mental ill health in 2021/22.

Freedom of information requests submitted by the Scottish Liberal Democrats to all of Scotland’s health boards revealed that:

  • In 2021/22, 226,885 days of nursing and midwifery time were lost to mental ill health. This is the equivalent of 621 years.
  • NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde reported the highest number of nursing and midwifery days lost to mental ill health, with a total of 68,165 lost days.
  • There has been an 11% increase in nursing and midwifery mental health absences from 2020/21, when the number of days lost stood at 204,764.

Mr Cole-Hamilton, right,  said:  “Day after day, nurses go beyond the call of duty. During the pandemic that meant risking their own lives to care for others. These figures emphasise the heavy toll of that work on the mental health of staff.

“And these are not just numbers. These are people struggling, people who need real solutions – not another decade of SNP mismanagement.

“The Scottish Government has been stubbornly pig-headed when it comes to easing the pressures on our dedicated NHS workers. They have repeatedly opposed and ignored Scottish Liberal Democrat calls for a burnout prevention plan and a staff assembly. These policies would guarantee annual leave, ensure safe levels of staffing and put the experience of those on the frontline at the heart of tackling the crisis in our NHS.

“Scottish Liberal Democrats will provide new hope for nurses and midwives. During what will surely be the hardest winter, nurses and midwives need to know that my party is in their corner.”


  1. It goes without saying that we owe a debt of gratitude to our consultants, doctors and nurses. They work hard, do a difficult job, in a system that now has substantial personnel shortages.

    And what are the Scottish Government doing about rails Cole Hamilton. But maybe he asks the wrong question.

    The NHS is underfunded. It is short of money. But if Cole Hamilton remembers there was a big red Brexit Bus that was after Brexit coming to deliver £350 million every week to our NHS. That’s over £18.2 billion UK wide or nearly £2 billion for Scotland. Maybe he might to ask about where the bus and the money has gone.

    Or what about the thousands of consultants, doctors and nurses who have left the UK post Brexit. Maybe Cole Hamilton would like to ask how our NHS has lost so many personnel, how we are now without specialist consultants in specific areas of medicine and how post Brexit restrictions on coming to live and work here are stopping European, and further afield recruitment.

    It’s not just the lorry drivers that are now in short supply. But hey it’s easier for rent a mouths like Cole Hamilton to rail at the hapless SG whilst the big Westminster questions are unasked.

    Ah well the worst that can happen is you die and folks will be dying. So turn up the heating, stay warm and dance.

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