Reducing sickness absence using evidence based strategies

Reducing sickness abscence

12 / 5 / 2014 Midnight

The Department of Health (DH) commissioned NHS Employers to undertake a project to reduce sickness absence levels and improve staff health and wellbeing in 102 NHS trusts. The project, known as the Trust Support Project, worked with a cross-section of NHS organisations, including acute, mental health, specialist and ambulance services. The project was part of a series of actions to support NHS organisations achieve the quality, innovation, productivity and prevention (QIPP) target for reducing sickness absence.

The Department of Health’s five high impact changes were used by the project team to assess the current practice of each trust and develop a feedback report to identify areas of strength and development. Each trust developed interventions based on the individual needs of their organisation and relevant to the community they served, resulting in an individual evidence-based improvement action plan which - if implemented effectively - could make considerable savings.

The project team identified a significant amount of good, innovative practice, including:

  • the identification of health needs of staff
  • performance dashboards linking workforce and patient safety data
  • effective use of the Electronic Staff Record (ESR) and e-rostering self-service system with close to real-time reporting
  • planning and communicating of initiatives to coincide with national public health campaigns.

The project also highlighted that there was room for improvement in many trusts. For example, they found:

  • A variable approach to sickness absence management with differing levels of senior support, financial investment and health and wellbeing initiatives in place.
  • The data available to line managers varied considerably, with some having access to live data from such systems as e-Roster and pro-Roster, and others relying on data around six weeks old.
  • Differences in the quality and quantity of trust-wide data used and how this was presented at board and senior management level.
  • Less evidence of active board engagement in the health and wellbeing agenda. 

We have produced a report which summarises the project, it includes the evidence gathered, key findings, good practice, top tips and case studies.  Download the report 'Reducing sickness absence in the NHS using evidence based strategies'  


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