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Reducing Sickness Absence


Reducing Sickness Absence – Evidence Review


In 2017 NHS Digital estimated that sickness absence costs £1.1bn a year although doctors are significantly less likely to take time off sick than comparable private sector workers (McKevitt, Morgan, Dundas, & Holland, 1997). Ritchie (Ritchie, Macdonald, Gilmour, & Murray, 1999) studied sickness absence in four NHS trusts. Ritchie found that almost 60% of staff had no spells of sickness absence over a year and almost 20% had only one spell of sickness absence. Women were more likely to have time off sick than men and full-time staff were more likely to be off sick than part-time staff. 71% of all absences were for less than a week. The main causes of sickness absence were: respiratory disorders, digestive disorders and musculoskeletal disorders. Wright (Wright, 1997) studied long-term sickness absence in an NHS teaching hospital and found that musculoskeletal problems – back pain in particular – were the main reasons for absence accounting for 30% of total days lost. A third of those with musculoskeletal problems and a quarter of those with mental illness attributed the reason for their absence to work. Delays in waiting for treatment and anxiety about returning to work prevented people from returning to work sooner – only a minority of staff had been to Occupational Health and referral was often delayed


30 Apr 2018