Over 10% of nurses out sick at Limerick hospital

ST JOHN’S HOSPITAL in Limerick has the worst absenteeism rate in the country at between 7% and 8%, and over 10% of nurses are calling in sick when rostered.

The October report from Healthstat, the HSE internal reporting system, found that absenteeism rates amongst the hospital’s health and social care professionals was just under 10%. The nursing sector had the highest figure for absentees on a percentage basis, with over 10% of its 114 nurses calling in sick when rostered to work in October.

The Healthstat evaluated 31 hospitals across the country. The other four hospitals in the bottom five for absenteeism rates were:

* Cavan General Hospital at under 7%.

* Midland Regional Hospital, Portlaoise, Co Laois, at about 6%.

* Midlands Regional Hospital at Mullingar, Co Meath, also 6%.

* Naas General Hospital, Co Kildare, at under 6%.

The HSE national target for absenteeism is 3.5%

Assistant general secretary with IMPACT, Andy Pike, said HSE health workers get “a bad rap” in terms of absenteeism.

“When you have the HSE warning the general public not to come to hospitals due to virulent infections present in the hospitals, it is inevitable that staff working there will pick up infections.

“Hospitals are inherently unhealthy places because of the infections present and it is not surprising that sickness rates amongst frontline health workers are higher than those working in the private sector.”

Mr Pike said that the HSE over-reports absenteeism by 12% to 14% due to the HSE counting rest days after sick days as sick days.

He also said that low morale amongst HSE workers was contributing to absenteeism rates.

St John’s is an acute general public voluntary hospital funded by the HSE.

The hospital has 103 beds — 93 in-patient beds and 10 daycare beds — and 288 full-time employees.

Last night, a spokesman for the Hospital said that “the absence rate recorded in the October Healthstat report represents a snapshot in time”.

The spokesman pointed out that “the hospital’s absence rates for November and December are less than 5%.

“The hospital places considerable emphasis on the management of sickness absence and has comprehensive and robust measures in place,” he said. “The hospital recognises the requirement to minimise sickness absence rates and will continue to take appropriate measures in this regard.”

Mr Pike said St John’s had “a very active attendance management policy”.

He said the absenteeism rates amongst clerical and administrative staff at St John’s could be attributed to the stresses of being short staffed. “In the administrative and clerical side, St John’s hasn’t been able to take on any new staff for the past three years and as the hospital is standalone, it can’t redeploy staff like what is being done in the HSE.”

More in this section