NHS sickness absence further reduced

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24 / 6 / 2014 9.37am

The latest NHS staff sickness absence rates released by the Health and Social Care Informatics Centre (HSCIC) show a decrease in overall sickness absence, falling to 4.31 per cent in February 2014 from 4.33 percent in February 2013.

The data considers sickness absence rates and total days lost by staff group, Health Education England (HEE) region and organisation basing the data on a 365 day financial year as the NHS is constantly open to the public.

The data tells us:

  • most staff groups have shown a reduction in sickness rate with the highest reduction being in nursing, midwifery and health visiting staff, to 5.03 per cent from 5.10 per cent
  • the lowest staff sickness rate of any group were medical and dental staff at 1.33 per cent, decreasing from 1.36 per cent
  • at 3.48 per cent North Central and East London has the lowest regional sickness absence whilst both the North West has the highest at 4.88 per cent.
Using this data in the NHS Employers sickness absence calculator we can show that the cost of sickness absence is £1.5 billion however the 0.02 per cent reduction saves the NHS nearly £7 million, equivalent to 61,347 days and 273 FTE.

Responding to the figures Jennifer Gardner, programme lead for health and wellbeing at the NHS Employers organisation, said:

“The evidence base around the impact staff health and wellbeing has on work and patient care is stronger now than ever before. Employers are recognising this and the NHS have some fantastic examples of how they are supporting staff to remain healthy. Without staff who are healthy, at work and engaged we cannot deliver high quality patient care, so it is encouraging to see this work is having a positive impact, and that sickness absence rates have fallen. 

Some of the ways trusts are delivering successful health and wellbeing programmes are: board engagement, early interventions, support and training for managers, focusing on accurate data and taking a targeted approach, engaging with staff about their needs and evaluating and tailoring health and wellbeing interventions.

NHS Employers provides information, resources and guidance to help employers put quality health and wellbeing support systems in place. These include the NHS Employers Virtual Board and managers guides on mental health, sickness absence, return to work, appraisal and musculoskeletal disorders.”

Notes: The cost per FTE per day 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 2013 census stating that there were 1364165 staff working in the NHS.

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