AMBULANCE staff had more sick days than any other NHS workers covering Essex, according to the latest figures.

Statistics released by the NHS Information Centre show the East of England Ambulance Service had the highest rate of staff absence in the county between April and June.

In June, 6.12 per cent of ambulance workers were absent from work – more than two per cent above the regional average for that month.

In April and May, it was 5.86 per cent and 5.87 per cent.

Seamus Elliott, the East of England Ambulance Service’s director of human resources, said: “Sickness levels in the ambulance services across England are higher than the sickness levels in other types of NHS trusts.

“It’s important to recognise it’s a demanding and stressful job, working on the frontline, delivering emergency medical care and driving under blue-light conditions.

“In order to deliver the high quality care to patients who are ill, injured and vulnerable, we need our staff to be fit and well.

“When staff are ill, they, of course, need to take time off to recuperate.

“We want our staff to be healthy and at work, and reducing staff sickness levels as far as possible is a high priority for us.”

Staff sickness across the county’s mental health trusts was also relatively high.

North Essex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust staff sickness rates ranged between 4.79 per cent and 5.31 per cent a month.

Colin Moore, director of human resources for North Essex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust, which deals with mental health issues, said: “It is generally accepted absence rates among staff working in the mental health arena are higher than normal levels of sickness because of the nature of the work they do.”

Hospital staff had the fewest sick days.

Absence rates across Colchester Hospital University NHS Foundation Trust’s two major hospitals, Essex County and Colchester General, were comfortably below the regional average in April, May and June.

Rob Bowman, the director of workforce at the hospital trust, said: “This trust has historically had a good record in this area, which is due in no small measure to the dedication and commitment of the workforce.”