Wigan hospital staff took fewer sick days in December than a year before – as absences across England spike

Wigan’s hospital staff took fewer days off sick in December than they did a year before, new figures show, in contrast to a spike in absences across England.
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The British Medical Association warned the NHS is facing an "unprecedented crisis".

NHS Digital figures show the staff sickness absence rate was 6.3 per cent in England in December – up from 5.4 per cent the month before and 6.2 per cent a year previously.

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At Wrightington, Wigan and Leigh Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (WWL), 7.6 per cent of full-time-equivalent working days were missed in December.

One month earlier, the rate was 6.7 per cent, while in December 2021 7.7 per cent of days were absent.

Separate figures from NHS Digital show approximately 215 working days at WWL were lost due to Covid-19.

Nationally, colds, coughs and flu were the most reported reasons for sickness, accounting for over 580,000 FTE days lost and 22 per cent of all sickness absence in December 2022.

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Anxiety, stress, depression and other psychiatric illnesses were the second most reported reason, accounting for nearly 550,000 FTE days lost.

Clinical support staff lost the most working days with just over 1 million, followed by nurses and health visitors with 740,000, and infrastructure support staff, including NHS managers, with 380,000.

Dr Latifa Patel, chairman of the BMA, said: "This Government needs to step up and ensure that doctors are properly supported for their own health with a system that can meet the needs of patients without adding to staff burnout.

"The NHS is in the worst state it has ever been in, yet there seems to be no plan in place to ensure that our health service is properly resourced, which is threatening patient safety and putting doctors’ health at serious risk."

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The highest sickness absence rate in the country was in the North West, at 7.4 per cent. London reported the lowest rate at 5.4 per cent.

A Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said a new workforce plan focusing on recruiting and retaining more staff will be published later this year.

They added: "We are hugely grateful to NHS staff for their hard work and their health and well-being is of paramount importance.

"For those staff that need it, the NHS provides physical and mental health support."