Implementing a new 24/7 nurse-led absence management framework could save time and money for organisations across the country, say bosses at Watford Borough Council.
The scheme is estimated to have saved the council the equivalent of more than £250,000 per year because of the reduced levels of sick leave taken by staff.
The scheme – managed by FirstCare – has been in place at Watford Borough Council since 23 May 2010. The average number of sick days taken per council employee fell from 9.21 in the 12 months to June 2010 to 5.78 in the 12 months to June 2016. That amounts to an average fall of almost three and a half sick days per council employee and a 37% reduction in absence.
Under the scheme, workers are required to phone FirstCare to register any sick leave that they need to take. They are then assessed by a nurse on the phone and advised as to what they need to do next. Immediate absence notifications are then sent to their managers, who can see at a glance in a portal who in their team is off on sick leave. Plus, on the first day of an employee’s sick leave, managers are sent recommendations to ensure the appropriate steps are taken to reduce the length of any absence.
The cost of paying workers on sick leave fell from an estimated £404,690 in the 2010 to 2011 financial year to an estimated £146,880 in the last financial year.
Watford Borough Council has now launched a national framework that other public sector organisations, charities and housing associations can sign up to. Organisations can join the Nationwide Public Sector Framework– which replicates the council’s own absence management system – by downloading the form on their website and following the instructions.
Elected Mayor of Watford Dorothy Thornhill said: “Reduced absence means lower costs spent on agencies, cover staff and overtime payments – plus boosted workforce productivity. Our National Public Sector Framework will help you deliver a high return on your investment, so don’t miss out on this valuable opportunity.”
Cathy Watson, Head of Human Resources at Watford Borough Council, said: “We have been really impressed with the true partnership approach FirstCare have developed with us. They have been proactive with service enhancements and quick to respond to feedback. This – together with their professional nurse advisory service, user-friendly portal and real time management information – has made FirstCare a valuable contributor to our success in significantly reducing sickness absence at the council.”
Watford Borough Council stands to gain 1.5% of the contract value for each new organisation that signs up to the framework.