NHS staff sickness absence - latest figures show reduction

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02 / 6 / 2014 11.53am

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 4.44 per cent in January 2014 from 4.72 percent in January 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:

  • each staff group has shown reductions in sickness rate with the highest reduction being in qualified ambulance staff, to 6.94 per cent from 7.57 per cent
  • the lowest staff sickness rate of any group were medical and dental staff at 1.33 per cent, decreasing from 1.42 per cent
  • at 3.57 per cent North Central and East London has the lowest regional sickness absence whilst both the North East and North West have the highest at 5.09 per cent.

Using this data in the NHS Employers sickness absence calculator we can show that the cost of sickness absence is £1.65 billion however the 0.28 per cent reduction saves the NHS £97.8 million, equivalent to 859,424 days and 3820 FTE.

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

“Employers recognise the importance of supporting staff to remain healthy to give the best care to patients therefore it is encouraging to see that sickness absence has fallen. 

There are a number of resources to prevent sickness absence and also to support staff during absence.  Schemes which provide early interventions, support networks and different ways for staff to take responsibility for their own wellbeing and to report any concerns in confidence are of particular value.

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 healthsickness absencereturn to workappraisal 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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