Sheffield hospitals fighting back against sickness rates

Sheffield's Royal Hallamshire Hospital
Sheffield's Royal Hallamshire Hospital
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Hospitals in Sheffield have lost £16 million to staff sick leave over the past year amid an increased number of absences, figures show.

At Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, which employs more than 15,000 people, workers took an average of 14.36 days off between September 2012 and August 2013 – up from 12.8 last year. The national average in 2012 was 9.5 days.

Mark Gwilliam, trust director of human resources and organisational development, said rates of absence were ‘significantly lower’ than many other organisations of a similar size.

But he said ‘early intervention support’ was set to be introduced to help staff with musculoskeletal and mental health conditions.

Barnsley Hospital staff took the most sick leave compared with other South Yorkshire NHS trusts, recording an average of 16.35 days.

In Rotherham, the rate was 13.28 days. Doncaster was the only trust to see a drop in sickness absence, from 11.4 to 11.2 days.

Mr Gwilliam said: “Previously, our sickness rate was between 4 and 4.6 per cent. However, this year there has been a reduction and currently the rate is 3.9 per cent.

“This is despite an additional 1,500 community services staff joining the trust, taking the number of employees to more than 15,000.

“We are continually looking at ways in which we can support our staff to remain healthy and well. This impacts on sickness absence levels.

“We are about to introduce an early intervention support package for staff with musculoskeletal and mental health conditions which should improve staff health and ultimately their ability to work.”

A Barnsley Hospital spokesman said: “Our sickness levels are higher than we want them to be and we are working to reduce them.”

He said training was being provided for staff in coping with work pressures.