Sickness absence is accelerating among managers in soon-to-be abolished organisations, an HSJ analysis has revealed.

Managers and senior managers are the only NHS staffing groups except scientific staff in which sickness absence has increased in the year to September 2010 - the most recent month for which figures are available.

Overall NHS sickness absence rates fell slightly from September 2009 to September 2010 but among primary care trusts they increased slightly.

The PCT staffing group with the second biggest rise, after ambulance workers, was senior managers, whose absence rates rose from 1.69 to 2.05 per cent of working days lost.

Sickness absence in strategic health authorities dropped slightly over the year, but among senior SHA managers rose from a low base point of 0.49 to 0.75.

At the same time, it dropped by 3 per cent among healthcare assistants and 6 per cent among nurses working for SHAs.

The apparent trend has come to light as questions are being raised over the strength of NHS leadership to oversee the massive NHS changes underway.

HSJ has also this week highlighted the high number of executive board vacancies in PCTs.

Rates for senior managers and other managers in the acute and mental health sectors dropped slightly in the same period.

However, Birmingham Community Healthcare Trust also highlighted the problem in board papers. A performance report submitted last month states: “The cost of sickness has increased due to sickness in staff with higher pay bands accounting for a high proportion of those on long term sickness.”

The findings are based on NHS Information Centre statistics shared exclusively with HSJ, providing a monthly breakdown of staff sickness across occupational groups.