Sunderland health bosses tackle staff sickness rates with yoga classes

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Health bosses have commissioned yoga classes as part of efforts to curb staff absence caused by anxiety, stress and depression, a meeting has heard.

On July 24, the governing body of Sunderland’s Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) heard a report on workforce data for the 2017-18 financial year.

Although levels of sickness absence fell over the period, annual sickness equated to 1,038 lost days at an estimated cost of £114,526.81.

A report presented to the governing body also revealed that 48.65 per cent of staff absences were due to stress, anxiety or depression.

Associate director of organisational development and workforce at the city CGG, Clare Nesbit, said several measures had been put in place since June to tackle the issue.

This included a previously agreed plan to set up and promote a health and wellbeing area for staff and new scheme hosting yoga classes for staff.

Ms Nesbit, speaking at Bede Tower, in Sunderland, said the staff have been taking part in a six-week course, led by an instructor, to help improve wellbeing.

In response to a question from lay member, Chris Macklin, the health boss said staff absence wasn’t linked to one particular sector.

In 2017-18, the number of staff employed at the CCG increased from 119 to 136 – including staff who are engaged under permanent, fixed term and zero hour contracts.

Currently, there are 19 staff on fixed term contracts or secondments employed by the CCG – equating to 14 per cent of the workforce.

With only 11 employees aged 30 or under, the CCG is planning to attract more young people with a mix of schemes.

This includes a modern apprentice scheme, engagement in careers events, student placements and a graduate management training scheme.

The meeting also heard Sunderland CCG’s long-term sickness absence rate had reduced in 2017-18 from six per cent to 0.95 per cent.

Despite this, the rolling sickness absence rate ended the year on 3.03 per cent, a figure sitting above the current regional average of 2.95 per cent.

Chris Binding , Local Democracy Reporting Service