20 Jul 2012
Daily sickness rates at the Scottish Ambulance Service have reached seven per cent, resulting in hundreds of workers being in their sickbed rather than on the frontline.
Latest figures uncovered by the Scottish Conservatives have revealed there has been a marked increase since an agreement was reached on meal breaks at the turn of the year.
This time last year only 4.5 per cent of ambulance workers were absent on any given day, but that figure has since soared.
The ambulance service has a sickness target of five per cent, yet rates have increased even though working hours have been cut.
The organisation has been urged to follow the lead of some health boards who have taken a more aggressive stance on sickness, which has resulted in a sharp drop.
Increasing sickness rates also mean the Scottish Ambulance Service is being forced to pay more in overtime payments
Scottish Conservative deputy leader and health spokesman Jackson Carlaw MSP said:
“Great efforts have been made to resolve the long standing issue of meal breaks.
“Ultimately, Health Secretary Nicola Sturgeon had to intervene and Parliament, while sceptical, agreed to support the negotiated package.
“This sudden and unexplained increase in sickness absence, with seven per cent of staff off sick every day, is not sustainable and there is clearly a problem.
“It appears to be a cynical betrayal of the spirit of the recent agreement, and if the unions are to have any credibility in future then they must intervene and try to sort this out now.
“Everyone accepts ambulance workers have a stressful and high-pressured job, one on which we all depend.
“However, that’s what led to the special terms recently agreed and in times of financial pressure on healthcare generally, we need our service operating at normal strength.”
Below are the most recent sickness rate figures for the Scottish Ambulance Service:
May 11 – 4.5 per cent
Jun 11 – 5.4 per cent
Jul 11 – 5.4 per cent
Aug 11 – 5 per cent
Sep 11 – 5.3 per cent
Oct 11 – 6.1 per cent
Nov 11 – 6.3 per cent
Dec 11 – 6.7 per cent
Jan 12 – 6.2 per cent
Feb 12 – 6.2 per cent
Mar 12 – 6.4 per cent
Apr 12 – 7 per cent
The Scottish Ambulance Service employs more than 4000 in Scotland.
Other NHS boards have successfully adopted a more aggressive approach to reducing sickness absence:
Staff hours at the SAS were cut as part of the meal breaks deal: