Nurse call scheme to spearhead cut in sick leave

Adult social care staff in York are being asked to phone a nurse
when they report in sick in a pilot scheme designed to cut high
sickness levels.

Adult services was singled out for the three-month trial by York
Council because staff take an average of 28 days sick leave a year,
compared to 12.2 in the rest of the council. The council estimates
that sickness in the department costs them £2.3m a year.

The scheme has been tried in the public sector in Scandanavia
and the US, where it is alleged to have cut sickness rates by 30
per cent.

Human resources manager Stephen Forrest said: “We are not
doing it to catch malingerers. All the research shows that the
sooner you get medical advice to someone, the sooner they get
better.” He accepted, however, that having to report sickness
to a nurse might deter malingering.

British Association of Social Workers director Ian Johnston said
sickness levels were high in social work not because people were
malingerers but because of some very difficult and stressful
working environments.

He added, that reporting to a nurse was preferable to the 
“misguided notion of offering rewards to staff who are not
sick, which implies that you can control when you are”.

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