CONCERNS have been raised about the high number of sick days taken by healthcare staff in East Renfrewshire.

Absences for local authority staff working for East Renfrewshire’s Health and Social Care Partnership (HSCP) were “more than 50 per cent” higher than targeted in 2018/19.

An annual performance report revealed sickness absence days per employee averaged 16.4 in the last year – as against a target of 10.9.

The HSCP said it is “very aware” of the issue and is working hard to address it.
Councillor Jim Swift asked what was being done about the “very high” figure at East Renfrewshire’s full council meeting.

“We’re more than 50 per cent over our target, which is pretty high,” he said. 
“I accept that we employ a lot of older people and they perhaps don’t always retain great health. 

“I wonder if we could get an explanation on what’s happening to improve the absence figures in the HSCP, which is about one day in 12 once you take out holidays and training days and things like that, which is very high.”

Absence days rose to 16.4 in 2018/19 compared to 13 in 2017/18 and 13.6 the year before.

A HSCP officer told councillors the issue was frequently raised at meetings of East Renfrewshire’s Integration Joint Board, which was set up by East Renfrewshire Council and NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde to oversee provision of adult and children’s health and social care services.

The officer said: “It is a challenge for us. I think it’s partly explained by the large proportion of our staff which work in the home care service. 

“That’s a large proportion of a relatively small number of staff and the issues around the demographic of that group is challenging.”

She added management panels had been set up to combat the problem and an HR person was working with home care staff to address any issues.

“We’re inviting managers to come to us and we can discuss issues with them to make sure they’re supported to implement our policies.
“We are aware this is an issue. 
“We were improving and it has got worse again.
“It’s something we’re working very hard to address.”