Western Trust spends over £17m on sickness pay

The figures recorded on the NI Assembly website

The figures recorded on the NI Assembly website

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The Western Health and Social Care Trust spent more than £17m in making sickness payments to employees during the last financial year.

Across NI, more than £100m was paid out to staff who were absent from work due to sickness.

The Western Trust’s £17,313,741 was the third highest in terms of expenditure on sickness payments in 2014-15. Belfast Trust spent £35.7m on sickness payments, while the Northern Trust spend more than £22m.

The figures were disclosed by the Minister for Health and Social Services as the result of a series of questions posed at the Assembly by Alex Easton, a DUP MLA representing North Down. Mr Easton asked individual questions about the payments by each Health Trust and also by the Ambulance Service.

The Minister, Jim Wells provided a table of the payments, which is reproduced above.

While frontline staff are at risk of picking up viruses and infections, trade unions have said the figures are not surprising, and that stress is the single biggest cause of sickness across health staff.

They have also called for action to recruit more staff across the NHS to ease the pressure on existing resources.