Effects of changing the pattern of sickness absence referrals in a local authority

Occup Med (Lond). 1993 Nov;43(4):211-5. doi: 10.1093/occmed/43.4.211.


The high costs of sickness absence in North Tyneside Metropolitan Borough Council prompted a review of the system of referral of cases of long-term sickness absence to their occupational health service for opinion about fitness to work. Earlier and more consistent referral of these employees produced reductions in average lengths of sickness absence. Time off before medical retirement was reduced from 72 weeks to 53 weeks, and time off before returning to work was reduced from 40 weeks to 25 weeks. Exact figures of the financial savings could not be calculated, but the estimated saving was 760,000 pounds in the first year. Although the occupational health service was not responsible for the whole of this saving, it played an important role in the exercise. It was concluded that earlier referral of employees with long-term sickness absence enabled decisions about returning to work to be made sooner, thus saving large amounts of money.

MeSH terms

  • Absenteeism*
  • England
  • Health Personnel*
  • Humans
  • Occupational Health*
  • Referral and Consultation* / standards
  • Sick Role*
  • State Medicine