Hospital staff off sick 62,000 days a year - but number is falling

Wigan Infirmary
Wigan Infirmary

Sickness rates among staff at Wigan’s hospital trust have continued to drop.

But even so, more than 62,000 days are still missed every year at Wrightington, Wigan and Leigh NHS Foundation Trust due to staff illness, according to figures released by the Health and Social Care Information Centre.

Sickness reduced by 0.61 per cent between 2014/15 and 2015/16. Whilst this may not sound a lot, it equates to a reduction of more than 7,000 days and helps to improve the continuity of care we are able to provide to our patients

Alison Balson

Between April 2015 and March 2016, the trust’s sickness rate stood at 4.03 per cent down from 4.72 per cent for the previous 12 months.

This is the equivalent of 62,321 working days, down from 70,747 in 2014/5, although still more than the 2013/4 level of 60,844.

The trust said it has been working hard to improve the wellbeing of staff along with their physical and mental health.

Director of workforce Alison Balson said: “Wrightington, Wigan and Leigh NHS Foundation Trust (WWL) is incredibly pleased to see that yet again we are seeing an annual reduction in staff sickness levels across the trust.

“Sickness reduced by 0.61 per cent between 2014/15 and 2015/16. Whilst this may not sound a lot, it equates to a reduction of more than 7,000 days and helps to improve the continuity of care we are able to provide to our patients.

“We believe this reduction has been assisted by many different factors. Our human resources team and trade union colleagues support managers to provide staff with early advice on interventions.

“These include directing staff to our counselling and staff physiotherapy services or referring to occupational health to better support staff at times of mental or physical need.

“We firmly believe in the ethos that happy staff makes for happy patients and have continued to introduce some innovative programmes of well-being support for our staff, which we believe have contributed in helping this reduction.”

The trust also helps staff to learn tools and techniques to cope with pressure and stress and runs regular physical activity events including a WWL Wipeout supported by the local Territorial Army, participation in the North West NHS Games and a WWL European Cup five-a-side football competition.

Frontline staff are also vaccinated against flu while all added sugar drinks have been removed from vending machines and all added salt foods removed from food prepared at WWL.

Mrs Balson added: “We are starting to promote our Steps 4 Wellness Programme which aims to proactively support staff health and wellbeing, via physical and mental health support, encouraging staff to make healthy lifestyle choices and to take part in social activities.

“On September 8 and 9, WWL will be officially launching the Steps 4 Wellness programme at Wigan Wellfest, in a Marquee on Trust HQ car park, which will feature information stands and activities for staff and the public.”