New statistics show NHS staff sickness absence for coronavirus-related reasons

Figures reported by NHS organisations on staff sickness absence linked to coronavirus (COVID-19) have been published for the first time today.

NHS Sickness Absence Rates May 2020, Experimental Statistics includes supplementary analysis on sickness absence for reasons related to coronavirus among NHS staff working in secondary care1 during March, April and May this year2.

This information is broken down by staff group, region and NHS organisation and by reason for sickness absence.

The statistics have been extracted from the Electronic Staff Record, which is used to record absence among NHS staff. A reason for the sickness absence is usually recorded, but this field does not include coronavirus (COVID-19) as an option. Instead, coronavirus can be selected in a separate ‘related reason’ field in the system3. Therefore, sickness absences related to coronavirus are shown in the data with another specific reason as well as a ‘related reason’ of coronavirus4.

NHS organisations were not mandated to use the coronavirus code or instructed on how to use it. Analysis shows that most organisations used it, but there may be differences in how it was applied, so some caution is needed – particularly in comparing individual trusts.

The main publication, NHS Sickness Absence Rates, May 2020 contains overall sickness absence rates, including breakdowns by staff group, region and NHS organisation.

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