Welsh Conservatives are calling for ‘improved treatment’ of NHS Wales staff as today’s official Welsh Government statistics reveal 6.2% of working days were lost to sickness absence in January 2018 – the highest rate ever recorded for a single month.
The release also revealed the sickness leave rate for the first quarter (January-March) of 2018 had the third highest quarterly sickness rate since records began in 2009 – 5.7% - and marked an increase from 5.2% for the same period in the previous year.
The Welsh Ambulance Services Trust consistently has a higher rate than the seven health boards, Public Health Wales, and Velindre Trust: it had an absence rate of 8.1% for the quarter and 8.6% for January. Ambulance staff as a group recorded an absence rate of 8.8% - another record high.
January marked the worst month of the first quarter 2018 for the Welsh health boards as six out of the seven recorded over a 6% absence rate.
Abertawe Bro Morgannwg had the highest sickness absence levels of Wales’ health boards (6.3% for the quarter) followed by Cwm Taf health board (5.9%). Velindre NHS Trust had the lowest at 4.3%.
The highest staff group sickness absence was in the Ambulance staff group (8.8%), while the lowest staff group sickness absence was in the Medical and Dental staff group (1.9%).
In 2017, Welsh Conservatives found that nearly 350,000 days were lost in the Welsh NHS last year due to mental health illnesses alone.
Welsh Conservative and Shadow Cabinet Secretary for Health Angela Burns AM said:
“Everybody understands that everybody at one point or another gets sick – healthcare staff not excluded – but the question must be asked about why the rates are so high.
“I believe these rates are increasing due to the growing strain on NHS Wales staff following nearly two decades of Welsh Labour mismanagement of our heath service, which has become chronic under Carwyn Jones and the two frontrunners to succeed him.
“This is a part of a pattern that cuts through the Welsh Labour-run NHS – long waiting times, extortionate clinical negligence pay-outs, and the UK’s worst access to healthcare.
“Welsh Conservatives want to change that and consistently called upon the Welsh Labour Government to give priority healthcare to NHS staff. We can’t expect them to look after us if we don’t look after them.”