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Saturday 22nd October 2016

Britain's unhealthy NHS staff

19th August 2009

Management Today suggests it is time the NHS started getting its staff into shape.


New figures show that NHS staff take an average of 10.7 sick days a year – higher than the public sector average and way over the private sector average of 6.4 days.

It can be acknowledged that NHS staff are more likely to get ill as many work in hospitals but even so, these figures show that they are the "sickliest workers of the lot".

More alarmingly, this appears to be affecting patient care.

Occupational health expert Dr Steve Boorman’s report contains some startling statistics on the 1.4m NHS staff. It shows that while most NHS staff drink in moderation, 40,000 of them smoke more than 20 cigarettes a day and 40% take less than the government-recommended amount of exercise.

The most common complaints are actually psychological more than physical, with a third of NHS workers having ‘moderate to very poor’ mental health.

That may be associated with the grim scenes many may witness but even so, 45,000 calling in sick a day is a lot and costs the taxpayer £1.7bn.

The financial argument for reducing sickness levels is clear, freeing up this money for beds, salaries and medicine.

More significantly, Boorman found that high sickness levels have a direct impact on patient care with the worst-performing facilities being less productive, using too many agency staff and having higher rates of superbug infection and even mortality.

These are plenty of reasons for the NHS to start getting serious about employee health and wellbeing.


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