2012-13 NHS staff sickness figures released


23 / 7 / 2013 7.52am

The report released today by the Health and Social Care Informatics Centre (HSCIC) considers sickness absence rates and total days lost by staff group, region and organisation basing the data on a 365 day financial year as the NHS is constantly open to the public.

The report showed an increase in overall sickness absence, rising from 4.12 percent in 2011-12 to 4.24 per cent in 2012-13. The data tells us the following:

  • the highest staff sickness rate of any staff group were qualified ambulance staff at 6.55 per cent which has risen from 6.18 per cent last year
  • the lowest staff sickness rate of any group were hospital doctors at 1.25 per cent, rising from 1.19 per cent
  • at 4.74 percent the North East has the highest regional sickness absence whilst London has the lowest at 3.52 per cent
  • Agenda for Change Band 2 staff showed the highest rate of sickness absence across pay bands at six per cent whilst those at Band 9 were the lowest at 1.22 per cent.

Using the NHS Employers sickness absence calculator we can shown that the cost of sickness absence is as follows:

  • £1.55 billion (£1,554,719,002) which is equivalent to 13.7 million (13,657,054) days lost and 60,698 FTE lost
  • The 0.12 per cent rise in sickness absence cost £44 million (£44,001,481) than 2011-12, equivalent to 386,520 days lost and 1,718 FTE lost.

Notes: The cost per FTE per days is calculated given an average salary of £29,600, working 5 days a week, a total of 260 days (225 working, 27 holidays, 8 BH). Giving a FTE per day of £113.84. These figures are biased towards the top end and not exact (a few high-salaried staff).

The default assumption is that there are 225 working days per year. This is based on working a 5 day week, with 27 days annual leave (Agenda for Change for up to 5 years service) and 8 bank holidays, i.e. = (5 days * 52 weeks) - 27 days annual leave - 8 bank holidays.

Staff numbers based on the 2011 census stating that there were 1431557 staff working in the NHS.

The report also found that NHS workers take on average of 9.5 days off sick per year. Average sick days per person equate to:

  • 14.7 days for qualified ambulance service staff
  • 2.8 days for hospital doctors
  • 10.6 days for qualified nursing, midwifery and health visitors
  • 8.4 days for infrastructure staff including managerial, estates and clerical staff.

Responding to the report Sue Covill, director of employment services at the NHS Employers organisation, said:

“The significant pressures of a long cold winter, organisational restructuring and challenging expectations place additional pressures on staff and these are reflected in some of the figures published today.

“Employers will be exploring in detail why sickness absence has risen slightly and exploring how best to support their staff in the light of challenges faced.

Evidence tells us that their are a range of responses to help staff both to prevent sickness absence and to support them during absence.

Of particular value are those schemes that provide early interventions, support networks and different ways for staff to take responsibility for their wellbeing and report any concerns in confidence.

“It is important to put these figures in perspective. Major staff groups, including nurses, are taking less sick-leave now than at the beginning of the decade, and systems to support their health and wellbeing have undeniably improved. The simple fact is the NHS environment has become more challenging [for everyone], making supportive approaches essential to mitigate the pressures and help staff work within them.

"NHS Employers will continue providing detailed support and guidance to help organisations put quality health and wellbeing systems in place."

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