Mental health number one reason for Cleveland Fire Brigade sickness, figures show
Mental health issues were the number one reason for sickness at Cleveland Fire Brigade last year- but bosses said systems were in place to ensure they were never caught short.
In total 4,307 duty shifts were lost to sickness from staff at Cleveland Fire Brigade in 2018/19.
Out of these, 20% were due to mental health issues, equating to 852 shifts, with the national average among fire brigades 21%.
The second highest reason was musculoskeletal lower limb issues, which was responsible for 846 of shift absences.
However Ray Khaliq, director of technical services, Cleveland Fire Brigade, explained they have a system in place to ensure they always have cover available by compensating on busier days.
It involves staff being sent home or told not to come in on busier days, with then them being available to be called in on other days if the fire brigade is short staffed.
He added staff are made aware of the potential shift changes due to a system involving ‘grey days and blue days’ and staff are on a rota so they know if they could be in line to be called in to work.
He said: “Everyone knows when they are working and when they are not working generally speaking, unless somebody rings in sick on the morning and then we have to deal with it and ring someone to come in.
“Those individuals are identified who need to be sat by the phone 45 minutes before their shift starts, not everybody is inconvenienced by it.”
The brigade also provides mental health support to teams, including linking up with Redcar and Cleveland Mind for training in stress awareness, as well as having mental health champions.
The brigade has access to counselling support and specialist arrangements are made for those found to be suffering from stress in the workplace.
He said: “It is something that is a challenge across the public sector and I think if you compare us to other local bodies our performance is extremely good, that again is because we have a part time doctor here, we have a nurse.
“Irrespective whether it is work related or personal we still support those individuals through referrals.”