NHS absences soar to a new high ...

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Staff absences within NHS Fife’s operational division are continuing to soar.

Earlier this year it was reported the division’s figure had reached a peak of 6.42 per cent in March - the highest it has been for a long time.

But last week it was revealed the level of staff absence in the following two months had remained at a similar level.

In a report to the operations division committee, Sharon Hutchins, deputy director of human resources within the health board, said absence levels were at 5.83 per cent in April and 6.40 per cent in May.

This May’s division figure compares to 5.7 per cent for the same month last year.

Across NHS Fife, the latest figure for May was 5.87 per cent, which itself is the highest rate for the health authority in recent years.

Ms Hutchins said: “After the record sickness absence level of 6.42 per cent in March, it was hoped that spring would see a fall in the rate.

“There was indeed a slight decrease of 0.59 per cent in April to 5.83 per cent but in May the figure has once again risen.

“A number of actions from the Attendance Management Group are being taken forward in an ongoing effort to address the situation.”

Among the actions being reviewed are occupational health service appointment letters and encouraging flexibility to enabel staff to attend work by performing appropriate duties where it is deemed they are able to do so rather than being viewed unfit to do any work.