Sickness absence on the rise in the NHS, report reveals


The NHS’s budget and staff troubles are not exactly a secret, and a new report by the Health & Social Care Information Centre indicates that higher sickness absence levels might be partially to blame.

Sickness absence on the rise in the NHS, report reveals image 1

The “Sickness Absence Rates in the NHS” report drawn up by the HSCIC reveals that in 2012-13, the national annual sickness absence rate rose to 4.24%, after falling for the previous two years. This means that a total of 15.9 million days were lost in the year.

Regionally, the North East had the highest sickness absence rate, with 4.74% of staff

ill on an average day – equating to 1.08 million days lost in the year, compared to

4.55% in 2011-12 and 4.98% in 2009-10. The lowest rate was in London at 3.52%

(2.11 million days lost) compared to 3.51% in 2011-12 and 3.64% in 2009-10.

The paper further breaks down the sickness absences depending on specific staff segments, showing that qualified ambulance staff applied for 14.7 days, compared to 13.9 in 2011-12 and 14.4 in 2009-10; hospital doctors required 2.8 days compared to 2.7 days in 2011-12 and 2009-10; qualified nursing, midwifery and health visiting staff logged in 10.6 days compared to 10.2 days in 2011-12 and 10.9 days in 2009-10, while infrastructure support staff (which includes clerical, estates and managerial staff) requested a total of 8.4 days, compared to 8.2 days in 2011-12 and 8.8 days in 2009-10.

It’s also interesting to note that sickness absence was highest among the lowest-paid staff members, with 6% of staff within the second lowest pay band were ill on an average day (3.06 million days lost) – the highest rate of any pay band. Although not quite surprisingly, the lowest rate was in the highest pay band (Band 9), with 1.22% ill on an average day (almost 6,500 days lost).

The results of this study prove that at least some of the NHS’ current budget issues might be solved by implementing very solid absence planning and reporting and personnel management solutions within the various trusts.

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