New statistics show NHS staff sickness absence for coronavirus-related reasons

NHS Sickness Absence Rates May 2020, Experimental Statistics includes supplementary analysis on sickness absence for reasons related to coronavirus  among NHS staff working in secondary care1 during March, April and May this year2.

This information is broken down by staff group, region and NHS organisation and by reason for sickness absence.

The statistics have been extracted from the Electronic Staff Record, which is used to record absence among NHS staff.  A reason for the sickness absence is usually recorded, but this field does not include coronavirus (COVID-19) as an option. Instead, coronavirus can be selected in a separate ‘related reason’ field in the system3. Therefore, sickness absences related to coronavirus are shown in the data with another specific reason as well as a ‘related reason’ of coronavirus4.

NHS organisations were not mandated to use the coronavirus code or instructed on how to use it. Analysis shows that most organisations used it, but there may be differences in how it was applied, so some caution is needed – particularly in comparing individual trusts.

The main publication, NHS Sickness Absence Rates, May 2020 contains overall sickness absence rates, including breakdowns by staff group, region and NHS organisation.



  1. The data includes staff working for NHS Trusts, CCGs, NHS Support Organisations and Central Bodies in England. It does not cover staff in primary care, such as GP practices.
  2. The supplementary analysis shows changes that are being seen in absence data in relation to the NHS response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. It covers differences observed between March and May 2020, during the initial response period.
  3. Additional coding was made available on the Electronic Staff Record for organisations to record against to show sickness absence related to coronavirus.
  4. Percentages in the supplementary analysis on this topic show absence rates for all sickness absence, absence rates for coronavirus-related sickness absence and the percentage of coronavirus related sickness absence as a percentage of all sickness absence.