Reducing Absence at Surrey & Sussex NHS Trust | FirstCare

Surrey and Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust provide more than a hundred healthcare services to a population of around 535,000 people, with services ranging from cardiology to urology, and from maternity services to the accident and emergency centre.

High absence levels can have a damaging effect on an NHS Trust, resulting in longer patient waiting times, increased workloads for staff and an increase spend on agency/bank staff replacements.

Aware of this impact, Surrey and Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust chose to become one of the earliest adopters of outsourced absence management solutions, launching the FirstCare service in December 2008.

The Trust is also fortunate to have a dedicated, highly skilled HR team who meet regularly with their FirstCare account management team to analyse absence trends and agree strategies to tackle them.

Since then we have worked in partnership to manage and reduce absence through initiatives such as:

  • Online return to work interview compliance monitoring, which has seen us help line managers to complete more than 34,000 interviews.

  •  Absence policy triggers and alerts which notify managers as and when absence reviews are need with their staff.

  • Real-time management information, which provided particularly useful during the Swine Flu pandemics in 2009, and has been in constant use ever since. 

As a result, absence continues to be well managed at the Trust, with the absence rate for the rolling 12 month period ending April 2014 showing a 18.6% reduction compared to April 2012.

In addition, the Trust’s absence rate is currently tracking 17% lower than the NHS national average, as reported by NHS Employers in January 2014, demonstrating how successfully our partnership has been to date. As a result, in December 2013 the Trust has signed-up to continue working with FirstCare until at least 2016.

Results From FirstCare Service

  • 18.6% Absence Reduction

  • 17% lower absence rate than the NHS average

  • 6100 more productive days in the NHS Trust


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