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NHS nurses off sick for around 11 days a year


There has been a slight increase in the number of sick days taken by NHS staff, latest official figures show.

NHS ambulance staff took the most days off sick last year, according to the figures from the Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC).

Qualified ambulance staff in England were absent from work because of illness for an average of 14.7 days during 2012-13.

For all of the 1.05 million full time NHS staff in England, the average time off sick was 9.5 days - a slight rise from 9.3 days in 2011-12, the HSCIC said.

Nurses, midwives and health visitors took 10.6 days off sick in 2012-13. This is compared to 10.2 days in 2011-12 and 10.9 days in 2009-10.

Meanwhile, hospital doctors were absent because of sickness for an average of 2.8 days in 2012-13.

On any normal day during the 2012-13 financial year, around 4.24% of staff in the English health service were off sick, the figures show.

The higher paid the NHS worker, the fewer sick days they are likely to take, the data suggests.

Sue Covill, director of employment services at the NHS Employers organisation, said: “The significant pressures of a long cold winter, organisational restructuring and challenging expectations place additional pressures on staff and these are reflected in some of the figures published today.

“Employers will be exploring in detail why sickness absence has risen slightly and exploring how best to support their staff in the light of challenges faced.”

But she added: “It is important to put these figures in perspective. Major staff groups, including nurses, are taking less sick-leave now than at the beginning of the decade, and systems to support their health and wellbeing have undeniably improved.

“The simple fact is the NHS environment has become more challenging for everyone, making supportive approaches essential to mitigate the pressures and help staff work within them.”


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Readers' comments (4)

  • Sickness really does need to be challenged more. We all have "colleagues" who are regularly off and when looking at the rota you are just hoping they turn up. I appreciate it is difficult to sort out the chancers from the genuine but the high sick rate is a major cause of low morale and stress which leads to more sickness etc etc. Some staff can be off 8 times a year and still keep their job leaving the rest of us to work short and struggle on

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  • Peedoffnurse | 24-Jul-2013 2:43 pm

    "We all have "colleagues" who are regularly off......"

    I don't.

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  • I have not had a single day off sick since 1987. What does this mean? It shows I'm not a "chancer" and also that I've been lucky enough not to have been ill enough to take time off. The distinction still needs to be made between "sickness" and "absenteeism". Sickness means you're off because you are ill, and this should be treated sympathetically. Absenteeism means you're pretending to be sick when you're not, and it is only this that needs to be challenged and punished. It's the punishing of people who are genuinely ill which is causing the low morale, as well as the failure to deal with the few who take "sick" days when they're not ill.

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  • You have to remember what nurses are exposed to as well. I worked on a respiratory ward with patients suffering from swine flu, caught swine flu and I have had had more sick days off since then as my immune system is so poor now.

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