NHS sickness absence continues to decrease

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22 / 7 / 2014 9.59am

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 4.04 per cent in March 2014 from 4.08 percent in March 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 4.73 per cent from 4.92 per cent in March 2013
  • the lowest staff sickness rate of any group were medical and dental staff at 1.25 per cent, decreasing from 1.27 per cent in March 2013
  • at 3.26 per cent North Central and East London has the lowest regional sickness absence whilst the North West has the highest at 4.65 per cent.

Using this data in the NHS Employers sickness absence calculator we can show that the cost of sickness absence is £1.4 billion however the 0.02 per cent reduction saves the NHS nearly £14 million, equivalent to 122,775 days and 545 FTE.

The release of today's figures coincides with the launch of our new online tool. ‘Everything you need to know about sickness absence’ is designed to help managers support staff with a confident and consistent approach. It includes a step-by-step guide for what to do when a staff member calls in sick, practical advice on some of the common reasons for sickness absence, as well as information on what to do if staff are frequently off sick. 


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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