King's Mill Hospital staff miss one in 20 working days as absence rates soar

Sherwood Forest Hospitals staff missed one in 20 working days in December 2021 as NHS absences across England reached close to their pandemic peak, new figures show.

Monday, 9th May 2022, 12:00 pm
Updated Monday, 9th May 2022, 3:38 pm

The Royal College of Nursing said overstretched workers are at breaking point, with many experienced nurses leaving the profession, while the British Medical Association has called on the Government to "focus on the protection and wellbeing" of the NHS workforce.

NHS Digital figures show 5.65 per cent of the available full-time equivalent working days for staff in the Sherwood Forest Hospitals NHS Trust – which runs Sutton’s King’s Mill and Mansfield Community hospitals – were classed as absent.

The figures show 6.23 per cent of nurses and health visitors, 2.88 per cent of doctors and 7.26 per cent of midwives were absent.

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Rob Simcox, SFH deputy director of people, said: "Our colleagues across the NHS have worked exceptionally hard throughout the pandemic to ensure that the NHS can continue to be there for patients. That continues to be the case and the compassion and dedication of staff to caring for patients and their families – as well as each other – has been truly inspirational.

“We recognise the impact that the pandemic has had on our colleagues at work and at home and we put in place an extensive programme of physical and mental health and wellbeing support to ensure that colleagues feel properly supported when they come to work and can deliver the best possible care for patients.”

Across England, NHS staff absences soared to 6.17 per cent, the second-highest mark since records began in 2009 and only marginally behind April 2020’s 6.2 per cent.

Anxiety, stress, depression and other mental health reasons were the primary factor, accounting for 23.7 per cent of all absences, followed by coughs and colds at 12.7 per cent and infectious diseases at 9.5 per cent.

At SFH, 1,713.65 full-time equivalent days were lost due to Covid-19, separate NHS Digital figures show.

Patricia Marquis, RCN England director, said: “These services cannot afford to lose loyal, hard-working professionals to avoidable illnesses on top of tens of thousands of nursing vacancies.”

She urged employers to work with nursing staff so they can better care for patients and prevent many from missing work or even leaving the profession entirely.

Dr David Wrigley, BMA council deputy chairman, said the NHS faces an unprecedented staffing crisis without government action.

The BMA called for greater Covid-19 testing, more personal protective equipment provision and more targeted public health measures during the final quarter of last year, when staff absences reached their highest point since records began.

The Department for Health and Social Care said it is supporting the health and wellbeing of NHS staff by providing targeted psychological support and treatment, occupational health sessions, and investment in ‘wellbeing conversations’.

A spokesman said: “We have record numbers of staff working in the NHS, including more than 4,200 more doctors and more than 12,100 more nurses compared with January 2022.”Background information:

SFH said it has a number of initiatives in place to help promote good mental and physical health and wellbeing among its staff and volunteers.

These include:

The appointment of a lead clinical psychologist and people wellbeing lead to help coordinate the organisation’s work to improve staff wellbeing;

Tailored support for staff with parental and carers responsibilities;

Staff support networks and professional internal services, including dedicated ‘wellbeing champions’ across the organisation;

Virtual exercise groups to promote good mental health and wellbeing among staff during lunch breaks and outside of work;

Access to additional support via apps, webinars and a Nottinghamshire-wide staff support hub.

Those efforts to support staff at work are recognised by employees within the Trust, with the 2021 national NHS staff survey reporting that staff morale at SFH remains the best in the Midlands and among the best of any acute trust in the country, despite the ongoing impact of the pandemic and the pressures that NHS staff continue to face, while 67.6 per cent of staff agree that the trust takes positive action on health and wellbeing, which is above the national average of 56.4 per cent.