REDUCING sickness absence amongst Bucks hospital staff helped save nearly £1 million last year, say health chiefs.

With the cost of sickness absence at Buckinghamshire Healthcare NHS Trust [BHT] previously totalling £10m this represented a ten per cent saving.

Bosses say sickness absence has reduced from over 4.5 per cent to about 3.5 per cent. This compares to 4.1 per cent of ‘days lost’ across the whole of the NHS.

BHT employs about 5,000 people, which includes Wycombe Hospital staff, and its occupational health team has been given a national award for its methods in tackling sickness absence.

The Healthcare People Management Association says it was impressed by the team’s analysis of staff who are off sick, and how they ensure they have regular appointments with a case manager - a new role which has been pivotal in getting people back to work.

Ged Marsden, head of the Occupational Health Service at the Trust, said: "We are delighted that the Trust has achieved this award and we are now telling other NHS organisations about our experience so that they can learn from our success."

Other changes have included more detailed data showing sickness hotspots and types of ill health, weekly case reviews, addressing personal barriers to returning to work and providing staff with counselling and physiotherapy where needed.