Hundreds of nurses have taken their own lives in just seven years, shocking new figures revealed.
Data shows that there were 32 suicides were recorded in 2017 – down from 51 nurses aged from 20 to 64 in 2016 – but during the worst year of 2014, there was more than one NHS nurse committing suicide every week.
Labour’s Shadow Health Secretary has called for an urgent enquiry into the ‘alarming’ figures which were released by the ONS.
Today, victims’ families have called for vital mental health training and support and an end to the ‘toxic culture’ in the health service that has left many feeling alone.
Lucy de Oliveira killed herself in 2017 after mounting work pressures and splitting from her junior doctor boyfriend. During her training Lucy was unpaid, relying on a bursary to afford accommodation and taking second jobs to pay for food
Liz de Oliveira – whose trainee nurse daughter Lucy de Oliveira killed herself after mounting work pressures – told the Mirror: ‘They’re working all hours God sends doing a really important job.
‘Most of them would be better off working in McDonald’s. That can’t be right.’
Mrs de Oliveira, 61, a criminal barrister, previously spoke of the heartbreak she and husband Barnabe endured at not being able to help her daughter, who silently troubles secret.
Liz de Oliveira – whose trainee nurse daughter Lucy de Oliveira killed herself after mounting work pressures – said: ‘They’re working all hours God sends doing a really important job’
She added that a ‘toxic culture’ meant younger nurses never asked for help, afraid mental health issues would be a blot on their record.
While in training, Lucy wasn’t paid, and used all her bursary money to cover accommodation which left her with £6 a month.
‘We only found out after finding a note on her laptop after her death. If we had known I wouldn’t have let her go back to Liverpool – I would have got her the help she needed.’
While in nurse training at Liverpool John Moores University, Lucy wasn’t paid and used all her bursary money to cover accommodation which left her with £6 a month to live on
Mrs de Oliveira added: ‘There’s such a stigma about suicide.
‘Maybe Lucy was worried that if people thought she was mentally unstable then she would lose her career.
Shadow Health Secretary Jonathan Ashworth has called for an urgent government inquiry into the figures, which are 23 per cent higher than the national average regardless of profession.
He said: ‘Every life lost is a desperate tragedy. The health and wellbeing of NHS staff must never be compromised.’
Mr Ashworth’s call has been backed by the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) which has asked both the Government and NHS to do more.
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, which come from the Office for National Statistics, show 305 killed themselves over the seven-year period.
An inquest has heard how another student nurse who was struggling to cope with the pressures of working in A&E took her own life March 15.
Charlotte Hillary, 24, who had almost completed a nursing degree at Edge Hill University, Liverpool died at Royal Blackburn Hospital seven days after hanging herself at her home in Rishton, Lancs.
Shadow Health Secretary Jonathan Ashworth has called for an urgent government inquiry into the figures, which are 23 per cent higher than the national average regardless of profession
Her mother found her in the family home and called an ambulance, but by the time paramedics arrived Charlotte’s brain had been deprived of oxygen.
The 24-year-old was taken to hospital but unfortunately the brain injury was too severe for her to survive.
A statement from Mrs Hillary explained how Charlotte had been on placement in the A&E department at Southport and Ormskirk Hospital, but was finding it difficult to cope with the stress.
The statement read: ‘She was involved in a car accident in 2014 and suffered from stress and anxiety. She decided to take time out from uni and then returned to complete her nursing degree in 2017.
‘She always did her best and worked very hard. In January she began her penultimate placement, but it upset her because of the nature of the work.’
A statement from her GP Dr Sean Burke said he had seen Charlotte on March 11, following an incident in February that had upset her, leaving her wanting to quit uni.
He prescribed her with anti-depressants after she complained of feeling down and anxious and was finding her nursing placement in A&E stressful.
She was due to see a private counsellor and they had arranged a follow-up appointment for two weeks later but took her own life before the March 22 appointment.
Coroner James Newman said: ‘Her family found a note in the kitchen, in which Charlotte had asked for forgiveness saying she couldn’t cope any more. Her death had left them shocked, confused and devastated.
‘Charlotte was clearly a caring and compassionate young lady, and in caring for so many others she had neglected her own health.
‘The difficulties she faced in terms of stress and anxiety about her career played heavily on her mind. Despite seeing her GP and having put in place steps for further care, something on March 15 led her to harm herself.
‘The fact Charlotte left a note is clear indication of the intent she had and I record a verdict of suicide.’
If you have been affected by this story, and are in the UK, call The Samaritans at any time, from any phone for FREE, on 116 123, or call Mind’s Infoline from Monday to Friday on 03001233393 or text 86463.