NHS employees take twice as many sick days a year than private sector workers, official figures have revealed.
A survey of health trusts in England by the NHS’s Information Centre found the service lost an average of 4.5% of working time to sick leave in 2005.
This equates to an average of 12 days off sick per employee per year.
Figures from the latest CBI/AXA absence survey put the average for the whole of the public sector at about nine days, with the private sector averaging six days.
The survey also found that NHS workers in the north east and north west of England were most likely to take days off sick.
A total of 5.3% of working time was lost to sickness absence in the North East, with the lowest rate of absence (4.1%) in London and the South East.
People working for the ambulance service had most days off due to sickness, with an absence rate of 6%. NHS Employers – the body responsible for pay and conditions in the NHS – said the figures were skewed by the number of people on long-term sick leave.
The organisation said it was carrying out a joint review with trade unions on how best to tackle long-term sickness.