Introduction Personal health, behavioural risks, stress and working conditions are some of the key factors responsible for sickness absence among personnel of an organisation. Staff sickness absence has a significant impact on the NHS, costing money, taking up time and ultimately affecting the quality of patient care. Although healthcare professionals are increasingly susceptible to catch infections due to direct exposure to patients with infective illnesses, it is estimated that doctors have lower rate of long-term absence compared to other medical personnel and manual workers.
Objective To assess the sick leave rates within the department of paediatrics and to investigate its specific prototypes.
Methods Retrospective analysis was undertaken of all sick leave taken by the doctors working in the department of paediatrics over a period of 4½ years.
Results 46% of all the doctors called in off sick on 132 occasions (mean=29/year). 2/3 of these requests were for one day only. 1/4 of all sick leave was taken when the doctor was supposed to be doing his/her on call duties. The majority of the sick leave were taken between December and April. Almost 1/8 of all sick leave requests were made immediately prior to or after annual leave or bank holidays.
Conclusion This is a comprehensive overview of sickness absence among doctors working in the paediatric department in a district general hospital setting. Further research is needed to evaluate similar data in other medical specialties within primary and secondary care. It is also crucial to investigate some of the factors which may potentially contribute to sickness absence in order to focus on programmes to lower these rates in a sustainable way.