NHS staff sickness absence
Estimates from Public Health England put the cost to the NHS of staff absence due to poor health at £2.4bn a year – accounting for around £1 in every £40 of the total budget. This figure is before the cost of agency staff to fill in gaps, or the cost of treatment, is taken into account (NHS England).
To address this issue, NHS England's Chief Executive announced a major drive to improve the health and wellbeing of health service staff, in a bid to benefit both staff and taxpayers (September 2015).
The data presented relate to sickness absence rates for staff at NHS organisations on the Electronic Staff Record (ESR). ESR is a payroll and human resources system which, since April 2008, has contained staff records for all NHS employed staff with the exception of GPs and those employed at the two foundation trusts which are not on the system. It replaced over 30 separate HR and payroll systems which were previously in use.
The figures published include the following components:
• Numerator: Full Time Equivalent (FTE) Days Lost to Sickness Absence (including non-working days)
• Denominator: Full Time Equivalent (FTE) Days Available (including non-working days)
• Rate: Sickness Absence Rate
The term FTE in this context means that if a full-time member of staff is off sick for five days (including any non-working days), the numerator=5 and denominator=365; however if a half-time member of staff is off sick for five days (including any non-working days), the numerator=5 and denominator=182.5.
It should be noted that lower rates can also indicate under reporting of sickness absence.