WORKFORCE: Sickness absence at the foundation rose by 28 per cent in December to 5 per cent of the workforce,  a report to its February board meeting states.

The report continues: “This is a significant increase of 1.08 per cent which in view of the prevalence of flu and viral illnesses, combined with the excessively cold weather and the exceptional pressures on the staff throughout the Trust was not unexpected.

“This is the highest level of sickness since December 2008. It is pertinent to note that the flu pressures were at their highest in January 2011 therefore it is anticipated that the January sickness absence rate could be even higher.”

It adds: “With this change to the sickness absence percentage, the average number of calendar days lost due to sickness per whole time equivalent staff member extrapolated for the period April 2010 to March 2011 is 17, which equates to 12 working days. The estimated cost of sickness during December based on an average basic salary, totals £300,000 an increase of £60,000.”