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North West 999 crews hit by sickness
SICKNESS at the North West Ambulance Service is 50 per cent higher than the national average, according to latest figures.
The 5,130 staff employed by NWAS – 70 per cent of which are ‘on the road’ medics – took 34,349 days off out of a possible 582,769, during April 2011 to April 2012.
That number equates to an average of 6.7 days per person, much higher than the 4.5 days national average for workers.
Bosses at the trust said that the sickness levels reflected the physical nature of the ambulance service work, abuse and stress from traumatic incidents.
NWAS director of organ-isational development, Margo Kane, said: “Traditionally ambulance services in England have always had a higher sickness level than other NHS trusts due to the nature of the work frontline staff do.
“Ambulance staff have a very physical role, so muscular, skeletal injuries are not uncommon, add to this, the fact that our crews face the threat of physical abuse and can deal with very traumatic incidents.
“We work closely with our trade union colleagues and managers to help ensure that sickness levels are kept to a minimum – we have improved access to occupational health services for staff, including physiotherapy and counselling.
“The trust has also reviewed and improved our procedures for managing sickness absence and supported this with better information and training for managers.”
For the whole of 2011, data from the NHS Information Centre shows that 405,000 days were lost among 17,922 qualified staff.
East Midlands Ambulance Service had the highest sickness rate of all, with 6.73 per cent of working hours lost. The NWAS average percentage for the same time period was 5.74. Its figures for sickness for 2009/10 was 6.28 per cent, 2010/11 5.3 per cent and 5.9 per cent for 2011/12.
Overall, NHS staff were ill for 15.56million days — an average of 15 days each. Hospital doctors took the fewest sick days – an average of 4.2 days.