Row over 60 per cent spike in number of 'mental health' sick days taken by Transport for London workers

dick Murray
Tube trains across the capital are at risk because of the threat: Oli Scarff/Getty Images

An “eye-watering” 60 per cent rise in the number of sick days taken by Transport for London staff citing a mental health problem sparked a row today.

The figure has increased from 43,743 days in 2015-16 to 70,097 last year.

The number of sick days taken for all illnesses by TfL staff surged to a record 311,403 during 2018-19 — 27 per cent more than four years ago, official figures reveal.

This came despite a drop in TfL staff numbers from 27,501 in 2016 to 27,280 last year. The average 11.4 days taken by transport workers as sick leave is nearly three times the national average of 4.3 across all UK industries.

The figures were released by London Assembly member Keith Prince, the Tory transport spokesman, following a written question to the Mayor asking for sick leave numbers and reasons.

He accused Sadiq Khan of a “catastrophic mismanagement” of TfL finances saying it has led to vital infrastructure upgrades being cancelled and more overcrowding on the Tube placing staff under increasing stress and pressure.

The Mayor said Mr Prince should be “ashamed of himself” and accused him of “trying to score cheap political points” over the issue of mental health.

Sick days taken by TfL staff citing accidents and assaults also rose by 27 per cent over the four-year period to 28,476.

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Mr Prince said: “It is deeply concerning that the health and well-being of London’s hard-working TfL staff has deteriorated dramatically over recent years — especially when it comes to mental health.

"These eye-watering increases need to be addressed ... as a matter of urgency.”

He added the surge in absences also had an impact on commuters, “making it harder for Londoners to get around the capital”.

The Mayor’s spokesman said: “The Mayor and TfL take the mental health of transport staff very seriously and continue to work to reduce the stigma around it, both among their own staff and Londoners more widely.

TfL has a range of support in place for its staff, including a dedicated mental health team and mental health first aider training.”

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