Reducing Long-term Absenteeism
Mid Cheshire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (MCHT), like many similar medium-sized district general hospital trusts, has had a problem with staff absenteeism. The Trust’s rolling average, despite being well within the target of 4.51%, which was previously set by clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) and NHS North West, steadily increased from 2007 to 2012. Absence was costing the Trust more than £1 million each year per percentage point and a high level of absenteeism was also leading to poorer quality of service, due to a resultant increase in the use of temporary and agency staff.Recognising the importance of this, the Trust’s head of human resources, put forward a business case in July 2012, requesting the secondment of a human resources (HR) specialist to spearhead the implementation of several measures designed to reduce staff absenteeism. It was agreed that long-term absence should be the main priority for the Trust to address, and its Managing Attendance Policy was updated to reflect this. A training programme was developed to assist with the management of long-term sickness absence, which was undertaken by 210 managers. A voluntary health improvement assessment (HIA) was also introduced for staff who had suffered a long-term health issue in the past, and a case management approach is now undertaken, which involves closer working between managers, HR and occupational health staff. This has led to a significant decrease in the Trust’s long-term sickness absence figures. When the project began, Mid Cheshire was ranked sixteenth out of twenty eight against other similar trusts in the North West for sickness absence performance, however by September 2013 it had risen to third place.