Approximately 16.4 million days are lost to sickness in the NHS each year, costing the health service £1.1 billion, data from NHS Digital has shown.
According to an analysis, nursing, midwifery and health visiting staff take 15 sick days in a year on average. This equates to 5.23 million full time equivalent days lost to sickness, costing the NHS £443 million in wage bills. ‘Due to rising demands on the healthcare system combined with funding shortfalls, healthcare staff are reporting unprecedented levels of stress and burnout,’ said Dr Judith Johnson, clinical psychologist and lecturer at the University of Leeds.
Out of the six staff groups measured in the analysis, ambulance staff had the highest sickness absence rate, with each member of staff taking an average of 20 days off due to sickness each year, taking a total of 388,587 days off due to sickness. This is followed by healthcare assistants and other support staff who take on average 17 sick days each year, per person, and 6.33m in total.
‘Poor mental wellbeing in staff is linked with poorer quality and safety of patient care, poorer patient experience, and is financially costly,’ added Dr Johnson. ‘Research to better understand how we can support healthcare staff’s wellbeing is sorely needed.’