Hospital staff’s sickness levels cause concern

Karen Swindley of the Trust
Karen Swindley of the Trust
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Hospital chiefs have voiced concern over the number of staff taking time off sick.

Bosses at Lancashire Teaching Hospitals Trust – which runs the Royal Preston Hospital and Chorley and South Ribble Hospital – said in a board meeting that “sickness absence continued to increase”.

Staff have been taking time off due to stress, sickness relating to maternity and musculoskeletal injuries. Union chiefs today said staff are going above and beyond and then suffering with stress.

Minutes state: “The chairman expressed concern regarding the continuing increased sickness rate which in some instances had exceeded eight per cent against the Trust’s three per cent trajectory.

“The director of workforce and education referred to the North West acute average target of 4.6 per cent and arrangements were being made to confirm this figure, although it was acknowledged that even if the percentage was lower than 4.6 per cent there was still work to be undertaken to reduce the high sickness levels within the Trust.”

Peter Smith, branch secretary for Unison, said: “Staff are working beyond their limits. We are in a vicious circle now because of the cuts the Government has made. People are having to do a lot more and are suffering with stress.”

Karen Swindley, workforce and education director said: “Clearly we are concerned about our staff sickness levels and we continue to work hard to try and reduce cases of staff illness. Earlier this month we introduced a new sickness absence strategy, which focuses on reducing the number of staff who are off work due to illness.

“While high sickness levels obviously create extra pressure on our staff and comes at an additional cost to the Trust, we are committed to ensuring that staff sickness levels have no impact on patient care and we maintain safe staffing levels.”