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Monday, 3 December, 2001, 07:28 GMT
CBI slams 'sign-off culture'
Hospital ward
UK public health system 'inefficient,' says CBI
The Confederation of British Industry, the UK's main employers' lobby, has accused the healthcare system of unnecessarily extending sickness absence by workers.

The CBI claims that a "sign-off" culture among UK doctors has boosted the cost of sickness absence borne by employers to 23bn a year.

The organisation is calling for greater use of private healthcare, arguing that this would make the health system more closely attuned to the needs of business.

"There is an inefficient and inadequate priority within the public health system and a failure to use private health expertise," said CBI deputy director general John Cridland.

"We have a bit of a sign-off culture in this country," he added.

Employers could do more

With one in four employers failing to keep records of absence, businesses could also do more to speed up employees' return to work, the CBI said.

The direct cost of sickness absence to UK industry is currently running at around 11bn a year, but sick pay and welfare payments boost the total to 23bn, according to CBI research.

Previous surveys have shown that around 200 million days, or 8.5 days per employee, are lost every year in the UK to sickness absence.

The surveys reveal that manual workers take more time off sick than their white collar counterparts.

See also:

13 Nov 01 | Health
Long weekend 'sickies' uncommon
30 Jul 99 | The Economy
10bn cost of sick leave
14 Sep 98 | The Economy
Absence costing a packet
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