Staff sickness at our hospitals is shooting up.
New data shows the people who are treating us are struggling to keep themselves well.
There were 469 episodes of sickness absence among the clinical staff at Calderdale and Huddersfield NHS Foundation Trust (CHFT) in 2016, up 59% from 295 in 2015 – the highest number for at least three years.
The most common reasons for missing work were gastrointestinal problems, the cause of 147 episodes, and colds, coughs and flu, causing 115 episodes.
At Mid Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust, which has about 25% more staff than CHFT, fewer workers were off sick last year.
The trust, which runs Pinderfields, Dewsbury and Pontefract hospitals, saw a total of 432 episodes of sickness recorded, with similar levels the previous two years.
Staff sickness causes hospital bosses a major problem as it means they have to employ expensive agency workers to fill gaps in rotas.
Calderdale and Huddersfield NHS Foundation Trust’s chief operating officer, Helen Barker, said: “Up to date figures for our trust show our overall sickness rates have fallen from just over 4.5% of staff down to around 4% year on year.
“The health and well-being of all our teams caring for patients their families is paramount at this trust and we continue to work hard to try to keep the rates reducing.”
The staff sickness data, published by NHS Digital, found that sickness spells across England rose by 9% in 2016.
An episode of sickness absence covers the period of time a person is away from work with a particular condition, so could last from a day to several months, and individuals may have more than one episode of sickness in a year.
Across England, there were 67,867 episodes of sickness absence in 2016 – the highest number for at least three years.
The most common reasons for missing work were colds, coughs and flu, the cause of 16,308 episodes, a rise of 16% in a year, and gastrointestinal problems, causing 13,305 episodes, up 12% in a year.
The number of times people were off sick due to anxiety, depression and stress rose by 10% in a year from 2,283 episodes in 2015 to 2,516 in 2016, while the number of episodes of sickness caused by chest and respiratory problems rose by 21% from 1,736 to 2,098.
There were 24 episodes of sickness due to substance misuse, up from 16 in 2015, according to the figures from NHS Digital.