- Researchers assessed the estimated cost of sick days based on NHS figures
- Poorly nurses and midwives were found to amount to £442 million of sick pay
- While ill healthcare assistants and other support staff collected £318 million
- Experts warn the cost could become higher as pressure mounts on the NHS
Hospital staff calling in sick costs the NHS more than £1 billion a year, shocking new statistics show.
Overworked paramedics, nurses and midwives are being forced to take time off to cope with the current crisis, experts have warned.
Despite having a budget of £116.4 billion, a range of services are constantly being scuppered to help combat its growing deficit.
And this increasing pressure on staff to make up for the slashes is forcing the NHS to waste their own diminished budget on providing sick pay, MailOnline can exclusively reveal.
A breakdown of NHS statistics shows that staff calling in sick cost the health service more than £1 billion each year
Research, commissioned by totaljobs, analysed data on the number of sick days taken by those who work in the health service in England.
They found illnesses obtained by the nursing, midwifery and health visiting sector were the biggest burden.
Their combined sick days cost more than £442 million – despite them not even having the highest absence from work rates.
Instead, qualified ambulance staff – under increasing amounts of pressure due to the ongoing crisis – reported the greatest number of sick days.
But they were responsible for just £28 million of the NHS’ outgoings for poorly staff.
And ill healthcare assistants and other support staff, who had the second highest absence rates, were found to cost the NHS £319 million.
Overworked paramedics, nurses and midwives are being forced to take time off to cope with the current crisis, experts have warned
A further £198 million was splashed out on providing sick pay to admin staff while those in the scientific, therapeutic and technical sector deprived the health service of a much-needed £45 million.
However, the overall figure of £1.1 billion could be higher as data on doctors was not included, the researchers said.
THE TRUE COST OF NHS SICKDAYS
Nurses, midwives & health visiting staff
Scientific, therapeutic & technical staff
Qualified ambulance staff
Healthcare assistants & support staff
NHS infrastructure support staff
Source: NHS Digital
Dr Judith Johnson, a clinical psychologist at the University of Leeds, told the MailOnline: ‘Due to rising demands on the healthcare system combined with funding shortfalls, healthcare staff are reporting unprecedented levels of stress and burnout.
‘Poor mental wellbeing in staff is linked with poorer quality and safety of patient care, poorer patient experience and is financially costly.
‘Research to better understand how we can support healthcare staff wellbeing is sorely needed.’
Researchers used the most recent publically accessible figures on the NHS Digital website showing the average sickness rates for each staffing group.
The team reached their figures by dividing the full time equivalent basic rate of pay of each department of staff and divided it by 366 days – due to 2016 being a leap year.
Daily rates were then multiplied by the number of days lost to provide a rough estimate of sick pay provided by the NHS.
Responding to the research, Danny Mortimer, chief executive of NHS Employers, said: ‘NHS staff now feel more comfortable about reporting the kinds of stress and wellbeing issues that can lead to other illnesses.
Qualified ambulance staff – under increasing amounts of pressure due to the ongoing crisis – reported the greatest number of sick days
‘There is now more specialist support for the health of our people, but there is also more pressure on the NHS, which impacts on employees, and we are urgently seeking solutions to that issue.
‘Ongoing support will be needed to sustain staff fitness and reduce absence levels, which have been relatively stable in the NHS for many years.’
A Department of Health spokesperson said: ‘The health and wellbeing of NHS staff is vital in ensuring they are able to give provide the best care to patients.
A&E DEPARTMENTS HIT BREAKING POINT
A&E departments are struggling to cope with the increasing pressure, statistics showed last week.
More than four in 10 hospitals in England have declared a major alert in the first week of 2017, the NHS said.
While nearly half of trusts believe their emergency units are being overwhelmed due to bed shortages.
Overall, 226 serious alerts were issued by hospitals experiencing major pressures in the first six days in January.
‘Employers across the NHS should ensure staff are properly supported to maintain their health and wellbeing and when off sick, offered appropriate help to return as quickly as possible.’
A&E departments are known to be dealing with their busiest winter in 15 years as some doctors claim they have never seen it so bad.
Earlier this month, the Red Cross warned hospitals were facing a ‘humanitarian crisis’ after an elderly woman died after spending 35 hours waiting on a trolley.
She passed away at Worcestershire Royal Hospital, while another – also on a trolley – suffered a fatal aneurysm in the same department.
Red Cross chief executive Mike Adamson said: ‘The British Red Cross is on the front line, responding to the humanitarian crisis in our hospital and ambulance services across the country.
‘We have been called in to support the NHS and help get people home from hospital and free up much-needed beds.’
While Jeremy Hunt has since begged people to stay away from crisis-hit hospitals.
The Health Secretary claimed 30 per cent of people using casualty units did not need to be there, pointing to cases of broken fingernails, drunkenness and back ache.