Following the finding that the sickness absence rate at Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board from October to December 2018 is up on the same period in 2017, Janet Finch-Saunders, Assembly Member for Aberconwy and Shadow Minister for Social Services, has taken action to request an urgent investigation into the increasing strain on health board staff, and the cause of absence.
After writing to the Welsh Government about the situation, Janet said:
“Whilst we must acknowledge that the sickness absence rate at the North Wales health board remains below the Wales average, the Welsh Government cannot ignore the fact that the rate is on the rise again.
“Indeed, sickness absence at Betsi Cadwaladr has increased by the second highest rate of all Welsh health boards between 2017 and 2018.
“It is extremely worrying that 5.4% of NHS staff were unwell at our health board, and that these included the highest percentage of medical and dental staff across all Welsh health services.
“As I have stated before, whilst none of us can help being ill, such a high percentage indicates that there may be other contributory factors.
“In my opinion, these include the Welsh Government’s failure to positively manage the health board. Indeed, despite it having been in special measures for almost four years, the pressure on hard working staff is being perpetuated as waiting time targets continue to be missed and more reliance is put on agency staff.
“To make matters even wore, it is true that there has been a 70% increase in assaults on staff across Wales since 2010.
“Given that the augmenting strain on our health board heroes is unsustainable, and that the cause of sickness absence needs properly identifying, I have written to Vaughan Gething AM, Minister for Health and Social Services, to request and urgent investigation”.
Written Assembly Question to Vaughan Gething AM, Minister for Health and Social Services:
Will the Minister make a statement on the increased sickness absence rate at Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board, and explain whether he will commit to undertaking an urgent investigation so to identify the causes of absence and the sustainability of the pressure on staff?