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Friday, 31 January, 2003, 12:55 GMT
Civil service sick leave 'concern'
Three nurses appointed to help
A Stormont minister has said that levels of sick leave within the Northern Ireland civil service are a cause for major concern.

On average, staff in the various departments are absent through sickness for 15.1 days a year, according to a new survey.

The report Sickness Absence in the Northern Ireland Departments 2001/2002 is part of efforts to reduce civil service sick leave levels.

Poor attendance can lead to reduced productivity and efficiency

Ian Pearson
NIO minister
Just 14.6% of staff were responsible for the vast majority of working days.

Nearly a quarter of working days were lost through psychiatric or psychological illnesses.

More than 35% of staff had no sick leave during the financial year 2001/2002.

Finance and Personnel minister Ian Pearson said the current level was a cause for major concern.

The minister said poor attendance could lead to reduced productivity and efficiency which created "obvious additional pressures" for remaining staff.

He added: "It is vital that measures are in place to support staff members through illness and to assist their recovery and return to normal working."

As part of measures to deal with the problem, a psychiatric nurse and two occupational health nurses have been appointed.

SDLP MLA for East Londonderry John Dallat said the levels of psychiatric and psychological illness meant the conditions and circumstances in which civil servants worked needed to be comprehensively reviewed.

"The whole hierarchy of the civil service needs a complete revision so that people at every level feel they are making an important contribution to the service they are employed in," he said.

See also:

12 Dec 02 | N Ireland
29 Jul 02 | Business
25 Apr 02 | Business
28 Jun 01 | UK
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