Shock at hospital staff absence figure

Wigan Infirmary
Wigan Infirmary

HOSPITAL staff in Wigan have taken a staggering 70,000 days off sick over the past 12 months.

However, the new figures, which cover the period between April last year and this March, do show absentee rates are improving.

And over the last few months, the rates at Wrightington Wigan and Leigh NHS Foundation Trust have dropped from a peak of 5.35 per cent in December 2014 to 3.58 per cent in June 2015.

Figures, released by the Health and Social Care Information Centre, show that staff called in sick on 70,747 days, out of a possible 1,499,470, between April 2014 and March 2015 at the trust, which employs approximately 4,300 members of staff according to its website.

The sickness absence rate had been steadily increasing since 2013 and this is the first time it has dropped significantly since.

A spokesman for the trust said: “We are incredibly pleased with the recent reduction in staff sickness levels across the trust.

“This reduction has been assisted by our human resources team supporting manager to provide staff with early advice on interventions.

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

“In addition, the trust has worked hard to embed a more rigorous and proactive monitoring and early escalation system.

“This has been utilised particularly well in the cases of long term sickness; ensuring this group of employees receive all the specialist support available to them.”

The figure for NHS Wigan Clinical Commissioning Group has decreased and also remains well below the national average 1,195 days lost to staff sickness in 2014/15, a decrease from 2.87 per cent to 2.68 per cent.

But staff at the North West Ambulance Service NHS Trust (NWAS) have consistently taken more days off sick then in any other organisation.

Staff took time off sick on 110,510 days in 2013/14 which rose to 148,142 in 2014/15. This amounted to 7.41 per cent of staff compared to the average for the North West of 4.96 per cent.

A spokesman from the North West Ambulance Service (NWAS) said: “Traditionally ambulance services across England have higher sickness rates compared to other NHS trusts considering the physicality of the work undertaken by our frontline staff.

“NWAS does all it can to support staff and is continuously working with them and with union representatives to help our employees with all the challenges they face in their roles.”