Ambulance crew sickness levels ‘disappointing’

MORE days were taken off sick by ambulance workers in North Somerset than at any other NHS trust in the South West during December.

Figures show staff at Great Western Ambulance Service (GWAS) failed to turn up to work because of illness an average of 2.5 days over the festive month.

The figure, described as ‘disappointing’ by bosses, ranks the service top for staff sickness over the South West’s 40 other NHS trusts and fifth in the country. The trust’s sickness rate - 7.61 per cent - is calculated by dividing the total number of days sick by the number of days staff were set to work.

The Avon and Wiltshire Mental Health Partnership Trust chalked up 5.49 per cent and North Somerset NHS recorded 5.57 per cent.

A spokesman for the GWAS said: “During December, the trust did experience a significant rise in its sickness absence rates due to a number of challenges.

“The winter is a notoriously busy time for the ambulance service and last winter was no exception. It was one of the coldest on record with extremely difficult snow and ice conditions.

“This resulted in the trust dealing with a lot more very poorly patients during this period than on previous years and also contributed to higher levels of staff sickness.”