Western Sussex Hospital Trust staff sickness costs £7.5m

St Richards Hospital.C092290-1
St Richards Hospital.C092290-1

RATES of sickness absence at St Richard’s Hospital are showing ‘no real progress’ and costing millions, officials have revealed.

A report by Western Sussex Hospitals Trust showed the cost of sickness absence at the hospital, as well as Worthing and Southlands hospitals, from April 2011, to March 2012, was £7.5 million.

“Based on these figures, a reduction of 0.5 per cent in the absence rate would deliver circa £1.5m saving per annum,” a letter to the board from workforce manager Jo Fanning said.

She said there had been ‘no real progress’ in reducing sickness absence. However, she added the figures need to be ‘considered in conjunction with the increase in the accuracy of reporting’.

On average, half of the trust’s sickness absence is due to long-term sickness, with the top reasons for absence being anxiety, stress or depression, and back problems.

Denise Farmer, director of organisational development and leadership, said the value of salaries paid to people during periods of absence was closer to £4.5m.

“This is a purely indicative figure, and is higher than the actual costs of providing cover when it is necessary in the interests of patient care,” she said.

“Our sickness absence rate is currently about 3.4 per cent and although that compares well to other similar hospital trusts nationally, we are working hard to support our staff to stay well.”