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Health board has lowest sickness absence rate in Scotland

NHS Shetland’s sickness absence rate for the last financial year was the lowest of all of Scotland’s regional health boards.

The health board reported a rate of 4.29 per cent, with the overall rate for NHS Scotland for 2018/19 sitting at 5.39 per cent.

NHS Shetland had the lowest rate for the year when it came to Scotland’s 14 territorial health boards.

The health boards with the lowest rates after Shetland were NHS Grampian with 4.53 per cent and Orkney at 4.62 per cent.

NHS Forth Valley had the highest rate with 5.88 per cent.

However, the figure comes against a national standard of four per cent or less which health boards aim to achieve.

NHS Scotland says sickness absence can lead to cancelled appointments and procedures, as well as “increased pressure on staff and patients, increased costs of employing bank and agency staff, and reduced efficiency”.

Freedom of information data, meanwhile, revealed that 1999 working days were lost at NHS Shetland in 2018/19 due to stress related absences.

NHS Shetland HR services manager Lorraine Allinson said sickness absence data is reported regularly in summary through the health board’s area partnership forum and staff governance committee.

She added that data for anxiety/stress/depression/other psychiatric related illnesses does not distinguish between personal or work related concerns.

“NHS Shetland provides occupational health support through a self and management referral process and reasonable adjustments are supported to maintain staff in the workplace and/or support a successful return to work,” Allinson continued.

“Health and Safety Executive guidance is used to manage concerns relating to work-related stress.

“Absence data is also triangulated with other available date sets such as staff survey, training needs and performance outcomes.”