Staff sickness within the NHS fell to 4.44% in January, from 4.72% in the same month last year, according to provisional statistics.
The figures from the Health and Social Care Information Centre showed reductions in sickness rates across all staff groups, with the biggest fall being within qualified ambulance staff, which saw a reduction to 6.94% from 7.57%.
The lowest staff sickness rate of any group was among medical and dental staff, at 1.33%, decreasing from 1.42%.
In terms of geographic spread, the lowest regional sickness absence rate was recorded in North Central and East London (3.57%), with the highest in the North-East and North-West (5.09%).
What the figures showed, said NHS Employers, was that the cost of sickness absence to the NHS was £1.65 billion last year, however the 0.28% reduction had saved the NHS £97.8 million.
Sue Covill, director of employment services at NHS Employers, said: “Employers recognise the importance of supporting staff to remain healthy to give the best care to patients, therefore it is encouraging to see that sickness absence has fallen.”