Falkirk health: NHS Forth Valley wellbeing plan aims to target sickness levels

NHS Forth Valley says it is putting more emphasis on its employees’ health as it launches a plan it hopes will cut its staff absence rates.

By Kirsty Paterson, Local Democracy Reporter
Wednesday, 27th July 2022, 7:12 am

Sickness rates for NHS Forth Valley staff are persistently high, with the latest figures, for May this year, showing a rate of just over six per cent, members of the NHS board heard.

With a target rate of four per cent, Forth Valley’s rates remain not only above this but also above the Scottish average, which is 5.86 per cent.

However, those figures do not include any absences due to coronavirus which are recorded separately as special leave.

The staff absence rate for NHS Forth Valley is above the national average

When combined with the covid figures, the total absence for May 2022 is 7.73 per cent. While the figures are going in the right direction – decreasing from a total of 8.88 per cent in April – they are still cause for concern.

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In a bid to get sickness rates down, NHS Forth Valley has launched a three-year workforce wellbeing plan that aims to continue and build on the support that was offered to staff during the Covid-19 pandemic.

The board heard that not only would the wellbeing plan help to reduce absence rates, it should also reduce staff turnover and vacancy rates.

Improving these, would in turn improve patient care.

Linda Donaldson said: “We know that the happier the workforce we’ve got the better patient care we get and that’s better outcomes for our staff, our patients and the communities that live in.”

She said the plan was being developed with the staff wellbeing group.

“We’ve got 44 members of it – and it gets bigger every time we meet, so that’s a great news story that people want to come to that meeting.

“It seems to have been well received and a lot of people are very interested in it!” ” she said.

The plan takes in four aspects wellbeing – physical, mental, social and financial – and the group have been looking at how best to support staff through the cost of living crisis.

The plan also recognises that for staff to be happy – and healthy – they need to be feel valued, be well trained and treated fairly and consistently with dignity and respect.

The board heard there would be an emphasis on training and staff development while work would continue to tackle bullying in the workplace.

Small groups of staff have also been involved in launching the final document that went live today (Tuesday) while the refreshed website will go live in August.