Ambulance crew sick days reduced

AMBULANCE crews are receiving extra care and support in a bid to cut the service’s absence rate.

In September last year East Midland Ambulance Service (EMAS) staff took more sick days than any other NHS employees, with an absence rate of 7.11 per cent. At any given day in that month 250 of its 3,500 staff were absent.

The latest NHS figures available for October, November and December last year, show that improvements are being made.

In October the rate continued to rise to 7.32 per cent, but fell in November to 6.70 per cent and 6.69 per cent in December.

Kerry Gulliver, acting director of workforce for EMAS, said: “We are delighted with the most recent figures, especially as they are for the winter period which is traditionally a difficult time for the ambulance service.

“Our local line managers have been putting more energy into supporting staff whenever they have a particularly difficult or traumatic job to do.

“We are ensuring that there is someone they can talk to before the situation leads to absences. In addition to this, we are carrying out risk assessments for stress and looking for the signs to enable us to intervene at an early stage.

“Because of this local managers are better able to help staff, before a situation arises where they become absent from work.

“We have always valued our staff very highly and we want to continue the improvements that have been made to provide people with a better service.”

Last September the service’s chief executive Phil Milligan said its higher than usual sickness rate was, in part, due to musculo-skeletal injuries and stress due to the nature of the calls crews responded to. He said there would be a review of EMAS’s occupational health service to ensure it was providing the right support, help and advice for ambulance staff.

The latest NHS figures show that Kettering General Hospital had a 4.27 per cent absence rate in October, 4.78 per cent in November and 4.51 per cent in December.