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The big question: why are NHS sickness absence rates falling?


Recent data from the Health and Social Care Information Centre revealed that staff are taking less time off for illness than they were five years ago, despite a rise in pressure.

Across the NHS in England, sickness absence has fallen slightly from a high of 4.24% in 2009-10 to 4.06 in 2013-14.

NHS Employers, which represents trusts, estimates this has saved the health service the equivalent of £7m, or 273 full-time equivalent staff.

Among NHS staff groups, doctors had the smallest amount of time off sick at 1.22%, with senior managers recording an absence rate of 1.55%.

Qualified nurses, midwives and health visiting staff had an overall absence of 4.5%, with ambulance staff recording the highest sickness at 6.2%.

Overall the HSCIC said NHS staff were taking one less day off sick than they were five years ago.

Why have sickness rates fallen?


Readers' comments (6)

  • Simple..... because they don't wont to lose their jobs! They will come into work regardless, frightened to take time off as many Trusts have changed their policy on sick leave - ammunition to get rid.

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  • great when they have an infection they can pass on to patients and colleagues!

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  • Yep!

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  • Agree. with lots of private providers in the health service now due to cuts, and the negativity of these providers, people are afraid to go sick. Even though they probably picked up whatever they had from patients or other staff afraid to go sick.

    Many private health care providers now have a 2 strikes and you are on disciplinary now.

    If you are sacked/got rid of due to sickness, however spurious, it will be neigh on impossible to get another employer to take you on despite the nurse shortage. They would rather get from abroad.

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  • Because they are scared, sickness policy is threatening and managers are enforcers of that. And it has become normalised to stay at work while infected and unwell.
    Not rocket science.

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  • I have been under threat even though I have a blood condition which lowers my immune system. I poick the bugs up from work and they always turnb into bacterial infectioins requiring antibiotics to clear up. I end up with raging tempoeratures and someone driving me round from base to base to do my job because coughing and dizzyness means I am not fit to drive. Fortunately i dont see patients that I can pass it on to but I can pass it on to other colleagues who do.

    I was told by the Head of Operations that the health service cannot afford to pay people to be off sick even when it is genuine and so they can now just go through the motions and get rid.

    Strangely though her best friend has survived masses of sick leave due to suddenly being found to be diabetic, she's a Senior Manager in the Trust as well, she like me was asked to take MARS and said yes initially then after she was granted it changed her mind and it was recinded. She was then told she could work at a lower grade as her job had disappeared but with protected pay. Just goes to show it depends on who you are friendly with, how you are treated.

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