Rate of NHS sick leave falls
By Vivienne Russell | 24 July 2012
Sick leave in the English NHS fell slightly in 2011/12 to a rate of 4.12%, figures published by the Health and Social Care Information Centre show.
This equates to 15.56 million days lost to sickness, but is slightly lower than the 4.16% and 4.4% recorded in each of the previous two years. Sickness absence data for 2010/11 and 2009/10 were also published today to enable comparisons to be drawn.
The highest rate of sick leave – 6.18% – was recorded among qualified ambulance workers. Workers in band two, the second-lowest of the nine-band Agenda for Change pay scale, had the highest rate of absence last year and in 2010/11.
Doctors (excluding GPs) had the lowest rate of any staff group at 1.19%. Generally, the sickness absence rate was lower in the higher pay grades.
Regionally, the Northeast had the highest sick leave and London the lowest.
HSCIC chief executive Tim Straughan said: ‘Although we have been publishing quarterly figures about sickness absence in the NHS workforce for the last three years, this is the first time we have presented an annual time series.
‘This information is vital to estimating lost days within the country’s largest workforce.’
Responding to the figures, Gill Bellord, director of employment relations and reward at NHS Employers, said: 'The year-on-year improvements to sickness levels show that NHS organisations' hard work to improve staff health and wellbeing is paying off. A healthier, more engaged workforce is better for patient care and crucial to help meet challenging NHS efficiency savings.
'The challenge now is to keep sickness levels coming down, by continuing to provide the range of support necessary to improve staff's physical and mental health and wellbeing.'