Latest NHS sickness stats show anxiety, stress and depression as most common reason for August absences

The latest monthly NHS Sickness Absence Rates have been released as provisional statistics for August 2021.

Published through NHS Digital, the report covers NHS trusts, hospital trusts, ambulance trusts, mental health trusts, regions and Clinical Commissioning Groups in England.

The newest release provides the stats for NHS staff absences in August, and show that the ‘overall sickness absence rate for England’ was 5.1 per cent – which is the same rate as in July 2021 but up from the previous year’s August 2020 results of 3.9 per cent.

The North West reported the highest sickness absence rate with 6.2 per cent off, while the London region and the South East of England region had the lowest rates, with both at 4.5 per cent.

Anxiety, stress, depression and other psychiatric illnesses remained the most commonly reported reason for sickness absence, accounting for ‘over 566,000 full time equivalent days lost’. It also accounted for 27.8 per cent of sickness absences reported across all staff groups – the same rate as in July 2021 but lower than in August 2020, when it was 31.8 per cent.

‘Other musculoskeletal problems’ was the second most reported reason for sickness absence among staff at 9.7 per cent, while gastrointestinal problems were the third most commonly reported issue at 7.3 per cent.

The staff group found to have the highest sickness absence rates in August was support to ambulance staff at 9.4 per cent, while ambulance staff reported the second highest sickness absence rate of the month at 7.5 per cent.

The release comes as the NHS total number of staff absences from work in Acute trusts only – due to either sickness or self-isolation – was recorded by NHS England as rising from 60,136 on 1 December 2021 to 68,082 by 26 December 2021.