The intense stresses and strains of dealing with the coronavirus pandemic sparked the highest rates of sickness absence among NHS staff in England in more than a decade, according to latest data.
Figures released by NHS Digital revealed that the monthly sickness rate hit 6.2% in April 2020 – up from 5.4% the month before. This was the highest level recorded, in data that goes back to April 2009.
About 2.3 million full-time equivalent days of work were lost out of a total of nearly 36.6 million during April. This compared with 1.4 million lost out of nearly 35 million in the same month last year.
The worst-hit region was London, where the sickness rate increased to 7.2%. This compared with a rate of 4% in January, when London had the lowest rate of any English region.
Ambulance trusts recorded the highest rates of sickness absence, at 7.3%. The next worst-hit group were those working for acute trusts, which provide services such as A&E departments, with a sickness absence rate of 6.5%.
The most reported reasons for sickness absence were anxiety, stress, depression or other psychiatric illnesses, at 20.9%.