Modern HR and sweeping reforms help to cut police force sick days

The number of days lost to sickness in the police force has dropped by
almost 10 per cent following the introduction of modern HR techniques and
sweeping reforms.

The annual report of Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector of Constabulary (HMIC)
shows the number of working days lost per officer has fallen from 12.2 in
2000-2001 to 11.5 in 2001-2002.

The number of police officers retiring on medical grounds has also dropped,
with 1,114 leaving the force in 2001-2002, compared to the previous figures of
1,209.

The report attributes the improvement to the increased provision of private
health care, better management and closer monitoring of sickness.

It also highlights the use of individual case reviews and better management
back to work of officers on long-term sick leave.

Inspector Peter Tickle, head of occupational health and welfare at
Lancashire Police, said a range of new schemes and long-term targets helped
reduce sickness days at his force from 12.5 to 11.6 per officer.

"We have put a lot of effort into reducing sickness and this shows
we’re going in the right direction. We hope to continue this by reaching a
target of nine days by 2005," he said.

"We’re happy with the progress on sickness absence but the police as a
whole must now concentrate on tackling long-term sickness, which can sometimes
drag on," he added.

Health professionals at Lancashire now hold weekly meetings to discuss new sickness
cases and ensure an early intervention with all absent staff contacted by a
nurse or welfare officer.

The force also has introduced its own physiotherapy programme to help get
injured officers back to work and employed external counsellors for trauma
cases.

Lancashire now allows officers that are physically unfit for normal work to
return on restricted duties with a back to work plan, detailing their progress.

Tickle said a new fast-track surgery programme had helped to speed up the
recovery of injured officers by getting them treatment much earlier.

Top performing areas 2000-2001

Days lost          Days lost to      Days                Days lost          Days lost to      Days   
            to sick             long-term          lost per             to sick             long-term          lost per
            leave                sickness            officer               leave                sickness            officer  
            2000/2001                                                       2001/2002

 Bedfordshire                13,544             7,812               12.9                 10,145             5,745               9.5

 Humberside                 16,485             11,271             8.6                   17,353             10572              8.6

 Northamptonshire        11,416             5,211               9.8                   10,151             3,649               8.5

 Northumbria                33,666             26,502             8.8                   35,515             29,117             9.0

 Suffolk                        12,179             8,735               10.8                 10,659             5,716               9.0

 England and Wales      1.51m              761,300           12.2                 1,46m              927,526           11.5

 Source: Her
Majesty’s Chief Inspector of Constabulary (HMIC)

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