Poll reveals high level of sickness among staff

An estimated 20,000 local authority social services staff were
signed off work for a period of two months or more last year, an
exclusive poll by Community Care of English councils has

The figure, extrapolated from responses from 100 of the 149
top-tier councils in England for 2004, has raised questions about
working conditions and the success of the government’s
efforts to boost social care recruitment.

Public sector union Unison said high turnover rates and
long-term sick rates could be attributed to high levels of stress
caused by understaffing.

Retention also remains a critical issue. Responses from 112
councils to Community Care’s request under the Freedom of
Information Act 2000 reveal a 12.7 per cent average turnover of
council social services staff in 2004.

A spokesperson for adult social care training body Skills for
Care said that boosting employees’ confidence in their
ability to do their jobs would help reduce the likelihood of them
succumbing to stress-related illnesses and leaving the sector
prematurely. He said it was critical for managers to develop the
skills to recognise when their staff were stressed.

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