The NHS culture is sick – and so are its staff – But is there any “quick fix”?

No other organisation in the world can match the NHS for its staff’s sickness and absence from work record. It is hard to get figures in graphics to compare all the difference Regional Health Services (The NHS 2018) but there are comments in the press, and figures for England. A typical table is attached.

Comment from the media goes back several years, and the rate is getting worse with 15 days per staff per annum national average in England which involves 42000 staff per day. The average private sector worker took 6.2 days  off sick. By  Sophie Borland in The Daily Mail on 24 July  2012

Smaller organisations have lower rates of sickness. Is this reason enough to break up the NHS? It would be interesting to have Aneurin Bevan’s advice. As a retired GP I was aware of the staff loyalty in a small organisation and our practice rate would have been under half the NHS. Looking at the chart in the table the differences between health care assistants at one extreme and doctors and dentists at the other is evident. The single indicator of whether or not you will ask for a sickness certificate (now a fit note) is whether you are self employed or not. Management skills are important in managing this problem and they have diminished. (Ben Glover reporting on David Flory in the Health Services Journal 10th April 2013)

Even smaller outposts of the largest employer in the world are affected. The Scottish Assembly member for Orkney obtained this data – in such a small population.

Going back to 2009 in the Guardian Sarah Beasley reports “Sick leave costs NHS £1.7bn a year

NHS staff take more time off than other workers, frequently because of anxiety and depression”.

Sickness rates in Wales and the NE are the worst and have gone to over 5%. Even the Nursing Times agrees (2009)

The BBC reports “NHS urged to curb staff sickness (march 2009)”. This story was covered in all the media , The Independent, The Telegraph,  and began in The BBC (2005) but the expense of a worsening rate which is now nearly double the private sector and was 1.5 times worse in 2009 (The Guardian) has not been addressed as yet. Listen to the interview with Julie Milewski retired Nursing Sister.

I wonder when this story will hit the media again? What solution can readers offer?

This entry was posted in A Personal View, Consultants, General Practitioners, Junior Doctors, NHS managers, Nurses, Paramedics, Professionals, Stories in the Media, Trust Board Directors on by .

About Roger Burns - retired GP

I am a retired GP and medical educator. I have supported patient participation throughout my career, and my practice, St Thomas; Surgery, has had a longstanding and active Patient Participation Group (PPG). I support the idea of Community Health Councils, although I feel they should be funded at arms length from government. I have taught GP trainees for 30 years, and been a Programme Director for GP training in Pembrokeshire 20 years. I served on the Pembrokeshire LHG and LHB for a total of 10 years. I completed an MBA in 1996, and I along with most others, never had an exit interview from any job in the NHS! I completed an MBA in 1996, and was a runner up for the Adam Smith prize for economy and efficiency in government in that year. This was owing to a suggestion (St Thomas' Mutual) that practices had incentives for saving by being allowed to buy rationed out services in the following year.

2 thoughts on “The NHS culture is sick – and so are its staff – But is there any “quick fix”?

  1. Pingback: Grieving for the NHS. The softer specialities and locums. Ration for higher earners, and where insurance could cover. | NHS reality. An NHS soapbox. Speakers' corner for the NHS.

  2. Pingback: Physiotherapy and counselling for NHS staff in drive to cut sickness rates | NHS reality. An NHS soapbox. Speakers' corner for the NHS.

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