Sickness absence cost the Hospitals Trust in Gloucestershire more than £6 million last year
SICKNESS absence cost the Hospitals Trust more than £6 million last year.
The startling figure was revealed in the trust's latest edition of its magazine Outline.
The total cost stands at £6,467,700, which is made up of wages for staff off sick and payments to agencies to provide cover in their absence. Of 7,200 hospital staff, the current sickness absence level is 3.91 per cent. This represents 282 staff having a spell of sickness during the year 2011/12.
The aim is to reduce that figure to 3 per cent.
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A spokesman for the Royal College of Nursing said: "That figure is higher than it should be.
"It would be interesting to find out what percentage of that 3.9 is made up of work-related illness, whether that be stress- related, injuries suffered in A&E or sickness contracted from patients.
"Furthermore, I would like to know what the Trust is doing to combat that statistic and where they are targeting their efforts."
She added: "That figure is an average so it is not entirely representative.
"You could have one ward which has one per cent sickness absence and another with 100 per cent sickness absence and they would both be lumped in together."
A spokesman for Gloucestershire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust said: "As with any hospital, our front line healthcare workers and those involved in supporting healthcare delivery can be exposed to a range of issues which may impact upon sickness absenteeism. Outbreaks such as Norovirus and flu as well as every day work and domestic pressures affect not just those employed in health services, but of course people more generally across society.
"Our sickness absence rates are comparable with other health organisations and the vast majority of our staff make every effort to attend work.
"We believe it is important to raise awareness about issues relating to sickness and absence with our staff and where staff are unable to attend work, we work alongside them to help support their return to the workplace.
"Our trade union colleagues and our managers are critical to this and we work together to ensure absenteeism is managed accordingly."
County councillor Andrew Gravells, cabinet member for health and wellbeing, is keen to see a higher take up in flu jabs in a bid to lower the level of sickness absence.
He said: "I'm sure that the Trust monitors this all very closely. I have in the last few weeks been looking at ways in which we can work with colleagues right across the board to see how we can get more staff to take up the offer of a flu jab, for example, which could help to reduce sickness rates in the Gloucestershire Health and Social Care teams."