The NHS sickness absence rate was 4.1% in the first three months of 2009/10, according to a new report from The NHS Information Centre – the first study using sickness absence data from the Electronic Staff Record.
This will be updated quarterly to provide a picture of sickness absence to the NHS. Its publication follows the Department of Health's Boorman Review in 2009, which called for NHS organisations to have access to better benchmarks against which to measure themselves for levels of sickness absence.
The report showed:
The North East Strategic Health Authority area recorded the highest average sickness absence rate at 4.6%.
The London Strategic Health Authority area recorded the lowest average at 3.4%.
Healthcare assistants and other support staff recorded the highest average sickness absence rate for a staff group at 6.2%.
The Medical and dental staff group recorded the lowest average at 1.1%.
Ambulance trusts were the organisational type that recorded the highest average sickness absence rate at 5.2%.
Strategic health authorities recorded the lowest average rate at 2.1%.
The NHS Information Centre's Chief Executive Tim Straughan said: "This is the first time sickness absence data from the Electronic Staff Record has been published. It will be of great interest to managers whose role is to monitor staff wellbeing and sickness absence.
"These statistics will enable managers to get faster access to comprehensive data and to compare sickness absence levels in their organisation with others. They will also now be able to track sickness absence levels over time as recommended by the Boorman review."