Hospitals trust reduces staff absence by 37%

Lewisham Hospitals NHS Trust has cut absence rates by 37% in just over three months, after introducing an absence reporting system. The scheme, which requires staff to report absence to a trained nurse, was rolled out to the trust’s 2,613 employees in March after levels reached 5.2%. The absence rate has since fallen to just over 3%. Wendy Gay, director of workforce and education, said: "It had been increasing steadily in the past year, despite putting in a dedicated person to look at it. 70% [of the absences] were short-term so I was confident we could reduce it."

She added that having to report their absence to a qualified nurse may also have deterred some employees from taking days off when they weren’t ill. "I think what’s happened is that where people think, ‘it’s hard to go into work’, they now think ‘I’ve got to speak to a nurse to explain my absence so it’s easier to come into work’," said Gay. The system, which is provided by FirstCare, has also helped line managers to tackle the problem by providing them with an absence report from the first day that an employee is away from work. Previously, they had to wait up to two months to receive management information about cases. Gay added that the Trust was now looking at introducing other HR systems.