Overcast

Overcast

max temp: 11°C

min temp: 7°C

Search

Call for robust action as mental health problems cause a quarter of county council sickness

PUBLISHED: 01:21 30 September 2018 | UPDATED: 01:21 30 September 2018

Reduced staff numbers at Suffolk County Council has increased the workload on existign employees, according to HR bosses Picture: ARCHANT

Reduced staff numbers at Suffolk County Council has increased the workload on existign employees, according to HR bosses Picture: ARCHANT

Nearly a quarter of all absence at Suffolk County Council is down to mental health problems, it has emerged – with one in 10 absences down to stress.

Richard Smith, Suffolk County Council's cabinet member for finance and assets said a robust plan was needed Picture: SUFFOLK COUNTY COUNCILRichard Smith, Suffolk County Council's cabinet member for finance and assets said a robust plan was needed Picture: SUFFOLK COUNTY COUNCIL

County bosses admitted during a scrutiny meeting on Thursday that the absence rate was too high at 5% of all available working days being lost to sickness, equating to 55,014 days in total across the council in just 12 months.

Data published ahead of the meeting revealed that stress-related mental health was the top reason – 11.3% of all sickness, while anxiety accounted for 6.9% and depression 5%.

The meeting heard that of those reporting absent because of stress 43% was work related, with factors in people’s personal lives such as divorces or legal battles accounting for the rest.

The increased workload for many members of staff as a result of a reduced workforce was also labelled as key.

Sally Marlow, head of human resources, said: “The absence rate is too high and has been increasing in recent years.

“They range from a recent increase in workload as the workforce has reduced by 50%, to much broader societal issues such as the increased reporting of mental ill health because of the reduced stigma, which is a good thing.”

Ms Marlow said an occupational health team worked with staff reporting problems, and further training was being carried out for managers to better identify mental health issues and stop absence earlier.

More detailed conversations with staff and measures to “tighten up” sickness procedures are also being developed.

Absence rates within Suffolk Fire and Rescue were among the highest with a 12.7% absence rate, 85% of which was long term due to musco-skeletal issues or post-surgery recovery.

The physical nature of the job also made it difficult to deploy firefighters elsewhere when they have injuries, said chief fire officer Mark Hardingham.

National data by the Local Government Association found an average sickness rate of 4.2% in 2017 for upper tier authorities.

Richard Smith, cabinet member for finance and assets said: “I have made it very clear that robust action is expected because of the high levels of absence.”

He added: “It’s an area I will track carefully.”

It is a new concept in dental care and it is being introduced at Suffolk dental surgeries.

Two Kesgrave High School students have been accepted onto a prestigious national engineering scholarship after taking part in a rigorous application process.

They were a mainstay of 1950s and 60s Britain who, in the days before 24-hour convenience stores and online shopping, provided an unrivalled doorstep service.

More people have been seriously hurt on Suffolk roads over the last 12 months 
than in each of the five previous years, according to government figures.

The Citizens Advice network in Suffolk says it is “dismayed” by council proposals to end its funding support across the county.

Millennials face an ‘impossible task’ buying a first house first home in Ipswich, with the average starter home in the town costing £60,000 more than the national average.

We rewind the clock on London Stansted Airport this week as we take a look at the UK’s fourth busiest airport back in the 1940s and 50s, when it was a base to the US Air Force.

A programme to turn around Suffolk’s special education needs (SEN) has been outlined – with an “innovative” pilot set to spearhead the measures.

A five-year-old boy from Shotley Gate has raised over £1,000 by putting on his running shoes for Children in Need.

Firefighters now believe a blaze above a high street shop in Ipswich was started deliberately.

Most read

Show Job Lists

Topic pages

Newsletter Sign Up

Ipswich Star daily newsletter
Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Our Privacy Policy

MyDate24 MyPhotos24