Staff sickness rates in NHS starting to fall

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STAFF sickness rates across Wigan Borough’s health trusts have dropped in the first three months of this year.

A report into staff sickness released by the Office for National Statistics revealed that all of the trusts serving the borough saw a steady decrease in the amount of staff taking sick days between January and April.

At Ashton, Wigan & Leigh PCT (ALWPCT) the rate dropped from 4.91 per cent in January to 4.11 per cent by March.

Wrightington, Wigan & Leigh NHS Foundation Trust (WWL) saw staff sickness rate drop from 5.55 per cent in January to 4.30 in March.

The health trust with the largest staff sickness rates in the borough was the 5 Boroughs Partnership NHS Foundation Trust, which looks after mental health services in the borough. It saw a drop in staff sickness from 6.22 per cent in January to 5.46 per cent in March.

Sickness absence rate is calculated by dividing the sum total sickness absence days by the sum total days available per month for each member of staff.

In February this year trust bosses said they were working toward improving staff sickness rates and the latest figures show this.

The Audit Commission did note that, across England, mental health and learning disability trusts, as well as ambulance trusts have some of the highest rates. It says the NHS could save £290m if sickness absence rates were reduced.

Staff sickness absence in the NHS is estimated to cost £1.7bn a year, and is higher than in the private sector. The report also revealed that the average sickness absence rate for the NHS in England was 4.24 per cent - which was a fall from 4.48 per cent for the same period in 2010.

Strategic Health Authorities had the lowest average with a rate of 2.25 per cent.