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Idea to dock pay during sick leave proves unpopular

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A discussion of docking pay for the first five days of sick-leave got an largely unfavourable reception from the Congress.

Graham Williamson, voting, of the Leeds branch, proposed the debate and led off with statistics, saying 10.3million sick days were taken a year in the NHS, costing £1.7billion.

He said the money saved by cutting back on this could help to stave off the job cuts, feared to be on the way.

“A number of people hold the view that they can take sick leave when they fancy a few days off” he said

Susan Smith, Inner North-West London. voting, said: “The problem I have is to get a balance between managing my service and supporting staff. Often frequent absence has effects on my team and puts additional strain on them.

“The NHS is actually very generous with its sickness allowance, there are conflicting arguments both ways.”

Catriona Forsyth, Blackpool South, voting, rejected the suggestion. She said: “This is not a nursing issue, it is a healthcare worker issue. We need to protect our terms and conditions.

“We work long, we work hard and we work for others so let’s preserve what we have got.”

Another delegate, told the conference the problem was intractable.

Fiona Salter, non-voting, said: “Most people who go on sick leave are genuine. There are some people who take it unnecessarily and we will never get rid of those people. Sickness needs to be managed proactively.”

Andrea Spyropoulos, voting, council member for the North-West agreed

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Readers' comments (2)

  • Sickness absence is a management issue, not a pay issue. Weak managers look for excuses or an "easy" way of dealing with those who abuse the system.

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  • It's not a case of weak managers making excuses. I was a manager and felt like I had my hands tied behind my back. I had one member of staff who after being turned down for a weeks leave because it was pover-subscribed took the week off sick and went abroad. Another phoned in sick then later posted photos on facebook of her out doing "trick or treat" with her daughter. HR advised me I couldn't do anything about it. I think this is the only way to stop them. A large trusts spends around £7,000,000 per year on sick pay - add on the cost of bank, agency or overtime and it is frightening. We have to accept the good old days are gone, the NHS is not a bottomless pit where money is concerned.

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