THE sheer number of days lost through employee sickness in the public sector has long been a problem.

And while latest figures provided by both the NHS and Bradford Council show an overall slight decline, the average sickness rate per employee are still way higher than those experienced in the private sector.

Council bosses, it has to be acknowledged, have managed to reduce the average number of sick days down to just over 9.5 a year, compared to more than 14 days a year a decade or so ago when the issue was at its height.

But that figure is still almost twice the number of sick days lost in the private sector and that still begs the question, why?

Yes, councils and health trusts are under pressure to cope with, in many cases, fewer staff but increasing workloads.

But the vast majority of private sector bosses will tell you they are operating under exactly the same conditions.

There has, of course, to be some consideration given to some specific roles in those sectors where the very nature of the daily job people are asked to do puts them under particular strain which can cause long-term absences, although that does not explain the overall picture.

And the RCN’s argument that NHS workers are increasingly falling ill because of the pressures they are under also does not square with the gradual decline in sickness rates.

Could it be, perhaps, that it is still too easy for some public sector workers to take the odd day here and there without too many questions asked?