Four employees of the HSE in the west area lost their jobs in the last 12 months due to absenteeism issues.
A meeting of the HSE West Regional Forum was told on Tuesday that of the 3,479 staff working at Galway University Hospital the average number of staff on sick leave per day was 132 or 3.79 per cent in 2012.
The information was presented by way of a response to a question submitted by chairman of the forum, Galway City Councillor Padraig Conneely.
Cllr Conneely was told that at the end of 2012 the average rate of absenteeism was 4.42 per cent (based on whole time equivalents ), which was a reduction from 5.3 per cent since the beginning of the year.
According to Bill Maher, CEO of the Galway Roscommon Hospital Group, these figures demonstrate a significant decrease in the absenteeism rate and are moving closer to the national target of 3.5 per cent.
“We take a multifaceted and consistent approach to promoting improved attendance with a focus on providing supportive structures for staff who, either as a result of the working environment or in the course of natural life events, become ill and by addressing any inappropriate use of sick leave schemes,” Mr Maher explained.
However, there was a spike in the absenteeism levels in January of this year where 5.82 per cent were off work, the highest of any month over a 12 month period. But they were back down to 4.36 per cent in February.
Cllr Conneely was told that when a staff member is on sick leave they are required to speak to their line manager at the earliest opportunity on the first day of absence. The granting of sick pay is discretionary and subject to compliance with the sick leave procedure and the Managing Attendance Policy.
Since November 2012 the number of days that staff may claim paid self-certified sick leave has been reduced to seven days over a two year period (previously it was seven days over one year ). If an absence exceeds two continuous days, a medical certificate must be submitted on the third day.
However, it was stressed that for infection control purposes it is important that anyone who is ill does not come to the hospital where viruses can spread to patients and this applies to staff who are ill too.