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  1. Nottinghamshire Fire and Rescue Service saw an increase in absence between July and September last year MORE firefighters are taking time off sick – and hundreds of days are being lost due to anxiety and depression, says Nottinghamshire’s assistant chief fire officer. Craig Parkin said he was concerned about the trend and believed pressures caused by public-sector cuts were “creating anxiety”. Absence across the fire service rose by more than 75 days, excluding retained staff, on the previous quarter. From July 1 2014 to September 30 last year, 967 days were lost to long-term sickness – 28 days or more. And 68.7 per cent of firefighter absences were classed as long-term. Across the entire workforce 495 days were lost to musculo-skeletal conditions and 250 to anxiety and depression. “In comparison to other industries in the public and private sector we are doing reasonably well,” Mr Parkin told fire and rescue authority’s human resources committee yesterday morning. “We’re concerned that last time the quarter went up on the previous year.“These are incidents where firefighters are sustaining injuries responding to incidents – some of them aren’t but a lot of them are. There are also occurrences of anxiety and depression. “It is the long-term sickness absence that are spiking the figures. After the meeting, he added: “With some of the musculo-skeletal injuries, we’ve put them in positions to save the public and they get injured themselves.” “The public sector is downsizing – that creates anxiety as well. The trend is something we’re focused on and making sure it doesn’t go up.” The authority is now working to provide access to services to help reduce days absence. Committee chairman Councillor Michael Payne, deputy leader of Gedling Borough Council, said: “We’ve got processes in place that ensure officers are dealt with on a day-to-day basis. We’ve seen some really good management of sickness absence overall with some ups and downs.” Alan Coates, secretary of the Notts Fire Brigades Union said: “Long-term sickness is a trend you can’t beat. It’s mostly down to long-term injuries because it’s a demanding job. We’ve had threats of redundancy and stress levels are very high. It’s not the fire authority or management’s fault – they’ve got to play the cards they have got, which are cuts to front-line services.” http://www.nottinghampost.com/Concerns-rising-days-Notts-Service/story-25950548-detail/story.html
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