NHS sickness absence

Category: 2getherThe Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC) publishes monthly data on the rates of staff sickness absence in various NHS organizations. Unfortunately the data is provided in a huge indigestible pile of numbers, impossible to make much sense of. After a bit of work, though, I managed to get a clearer impression of what’s going on in the 2gether NHS Foundation Trust, Gloucestershire and Herefordshire’s mental health trust.

The original data is in the monthly data file (in CSV format) for the four years April 2009 to March 2013, here: Sickness Absence Rates in the NHS – January to March 2013

I filtered the data to leave only the organizations categorized as “Mental Health and Learning Disability” because I wanted a reasonably valid basis for comparing 2gether’s performance with that of other trusts. Then I removed all the figures except the percentage sickness absence rates, and sorted the remaining data by organization code and date. If anyone has a use for the resulting data, it’s here: MH sickness absence 2009-2013.csv

The percentage sickness absence rates are calculated by HSCIC from the total number of days that staff could have worked during the month (“Full Time Equivalent days available”) and the number of days taken off sick that month (“Full Time Equivalent days sick”).


The rates for mental health trusts in this four-year period vary from 1.13% (about 1 day in 88 taken off sick) at the Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation Trust in March 2013, to 7.73% (about 1 day in 13 taken off sick) at the Greater Manchester West Mental Health NHS Foundation Trust in December 2009.

Rates for 2gether vary from 3.75% (about 1 day in 27 taken off sick) in April 2011, to 6.4% (about 1 day in 16 taken off sick) in December 2010. However, January 2013 with 6.26% (also about 1 day in 16 taken off sick) was 2gether’s second-worst month in this period.

I imported the filtered data into a spreadsheet and used it to calculate the England average for mental health trusts each month from April 2009 to March 2013. Then I plotted these averages (blue) together with the figures for 2gether (red) on the same chart. There’s a lot of seasonal variation, as you would expect. The dotted lines show the overall linear trends.

Sickness absence

This is bad news for 2gether, which seems to have had generally worsening rates of sickness absence over the last four years against a background of slightly improving rates in mental health trusts as a whole.


About Rod

Chairman of the Gloucestershire charity Suicide Crisis, Vice Chair of Relate Gloucestershire & Swindon, and an enthusiast for public involvement in the NHS.
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