HEALTH workers have been praised for their hard work during the coronavirus crisis as new statistics revealed that NHS staff in Bolton took one of the fewest number of sick days in April.

Data from NHS Digital shows that the overall staff absence rate at Bolton NHS Foundation Trust was just 5 per cent in April, down slightly from 5.1 per cent in March.

Cllr Sur Haworth, the Labour spokesperson for health and wellbeing and ward representative for Harper Green, said: “Many congratulations to all at the Bolton NHS Foundation Trust on this achievement.

"It is no doubt achieved by skilled leadership at all levels of the organisation and staff who support each other.

"These sickness rate figures are for a month when NHS staff have been caring for people with coronavirus.

"There continues to be huge admiration for all health and social care staff here in Bolton.”

Nationally, NHS staff missed 2.3 million working days, or 6.2 per cent of their shifts due to sickness – the highest absence rate since records began in April 2009.

The most reported reason for sickness absence was anxiety, stress, depression or other psychiatric illnesses, accounting for just over a fifth of all absences.

Chest and respiratory problems was behind 14.8 per cent of all absences, whilst 14.4 per cent of sickness was caused by cold, cough, or flu.

In Bolton, hospital bosses think that the low absence rate is a reflection of the hard work done to support workers.

By offering support clinics, free wellbeing and therapy resources, and a 24/7 helpline available to all staff, the Trust promotes healthy methods of dealing with stressful situations, which can often lead to sickness or absences.

James Mawrey, Director of People, Bolton NHS Foundation Trust said: “Focusing on the health and wellbeing of our staff is an essential component to delivering high quality care to our patients.

"Throughout COVID period we have worked closely with our staff & Trade Union colleagues to help us better understand the pressures that they face and the support that they need.

“I really am thrilled that all of the wellbeing support has been beneficial and this can be demonstrated in our reduced absences levels – which are currently the lowest in Greater Manchester and one of the lowest in the North West of England.”

The figures cover the first full month of lockdown, when people across the country were urged to stay at home to protect the NHS as it came under increased pressure.

NHS Providers, the membership organisation for trusts in England, said a variation in sickness absence by region and trusts correlated with the areas facing the biggest peaks of the coronavirus outbreak.

By the end of April, 1,021 cases of covid-19 had been confirmed across the borough.