A STARTLING 100,000 working days were lost in one month in the HSE due to absenteeism.
The unpublished HSE figures show the average absence rate for health service staff in January was 6.82% — almost double the private sector average.
The figure equates, on average, to just under a day per month per staff member, of which there are 113,000 in total. However, the average levels of non-attendance are eclipsed by some sections of individual hospitals and agencies, where absenteeism was far higher.
It is thought non-attendance at work costs the health services €150 million a year in replacement staff.
The one-month snapshot of January this year shows that, overall nationally, general support staff including porters, caterers and cleaners were absent at rates of almost 8% — more than twice the national average in the private sector.
The HSE only began recording national absenteeism rates centrally last year and it said a national absence management strategy is being finalised.
“Absence management has been identified by the HSE as a key service priority which can provide considerable cost benefits if appropriate controls are put in place,” a spokesperson said.
Non-attendance at work at north-east hospitals ran at almost 9%, while the mid-west hospitals’ staff loss was 7.5%.
General support staff were absent most, and in hospitals in the north-east, including Our Lady of Lourdes in Drogheda and Monaghan General Hospital, rates peaked at more than 12%. This reflects an absence of two days a month each — double the HSE average.
Nursing staff across the health services were absent at a rate of 6.23%, showing they take less sick leave than their colleagues in portering, catering, community welfare and related grades, but more than medical, dental, management, administrative or health and social care professionals.
At the Central Remedial Clinic, which provides specialised services for children and adults with physical disabilities, support staff recorded sick rates of more than 16%.
Health and social care professionals were absent from a Cork-based service, which provides for children and adults with intellectual disability, at a rate of 13.6%.
The overall national rate for the same workers in primary care was 5%.
At St John’s Hospital Limerick, support staff were absent at a rate of 13.5% while in Beaumont hospital this rose to more than 15%.
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