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NHS full of sickies

In all the national newspapers today, Dr.Steve Boorman´s report that NHS Staff aren´t terrible healthy:

More than 45,000 NHS staff members a day report sick, according to the first national audit of working patterns within the health service.

The sickness rate is one-and-a-half times that of the private sector in general, while NHS workers were also found to have high average levels of obesity, smoking and poor mental health, affecting patient care.

Interestingly, the only comparative data here is that NHS staff take 50% more sick days per year than private sector employees. Strikes me as an odd comparison for a physician to make. A more controlled comparison would surely be with other public sector staff, with similar employees and entitlement to sick leave.

Couldn´t most of the difference be accounted for by a different management culture in the private sector, increased pressure on staff to have high attendance records, more stringent rules on when you can take days off and expect to be paid?

I know from my experience that I´ve struggled into work when unfit for private employees, when with a more generous boss I would have preferred to rest and get better.

Posted in workers rights.

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6 Responses

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  1. oisleep says

    is the 50% more in relation to private sector healthcare workers?

    the cost of this sickness has apparently been put at £1.7bn a year – it would be interesting to see how much is gained through unpaid overtime (to make up for underfunding of resources) which no doubt ultimately leads to the high levels of burn out and sickness that they’re going on about now – and surely if you’re in a high stress environment dealing with ill folk it’s a recipe for getting sick yourself

    (steve boorman actually works for the Royal Mail)

  2. Duncan says

    Surprised no-one else has pointed out the obvious here, is it beyond the realms of possibility that NHS staff have more sick days than people in other sectors because many of their jobs involve frequent contact with people who are ill and occasionally contagious?

  3. Sorry. says

    can´t help but feel that the purpose of the research was to slag off NHS staff. Thought the constant drip-drip of anti-NHS stories seems to have stopped now the government want to use it as a stick to beat the Tories.

  4. Robert Fleming says

    Also part of the softening up for the public sector cuts ; pensions, non jobs, sickness absence, failing targets etc leading to a conclusion that what the country needs is less spent on the public sector and more on the private or I suppose the private sector has felt the pinch now its the public sectors turn. Apparantly Canada under the Liberals is the model.

  5. butchersapron says

    Note that the other Guardian report frames the findings as “Sick leave costs NHS £1.7bn a year”, rather than looking at occupational related illness. Don’t make it too hard for the govt or anything eh?

    What makes this even more ridiculous is that they claimed in the orignal report that occupational helath problems are “affecting patient care.” whilst today they reveal that:

    The NHS spent more than £800m settling legal claims last year as complaints of medical negligence against the service rose sharply.

    I wonder, could the two be connected in some way? Joined up journalism. I love it.

  6. chegrimandi says

    nothing to do with the stress of working shifts – which are widely acknowledged as being bad for your health – in an under funded area – where every single person you deal with is ill to some degree.



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