NHS 24 helpline for absenteeism

NHS 24 is set to get its own helpline to deal with alarming rates of absenteeism in the health hotline service.

Managers at the under-fire health line are considering the move to tackle the worst absenteeism rate of any major Scottish public organisation. NHS 24 employees are off work for an average of 18 days a year, more than twice the average for other organisations. NHS 24 managers have not costed the plan yet, but a similar pilot at East Ayrshire Council was calculated at £28,000.

The organisation has defended the scheme on grounds of "confidentiality" for employees so they will not have to discuss their symptoms with colleagues. Critics claim the need for the plan shows the flaws in the idea behind NHS 24.

The plan is contained in a document on managing absenteeism in NHS 24, obtained under Freedom of Information legislation. Written last autumn, it details a number of options for reducing absentee rates.

NHS 24 staff to get their own health line in bid to cut soaring absentee rates (The Scotsman, 23 March 2008)