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Tell Your Sick Staff To Go Home

With some regions already suffering from the flu outbreak and others poised to be hit, employers are being reminded that sick staff are not good for business.

Wise Use of Antibiotics Campaign spokesperson Dr Eileen Sables says a caring attitude towards sick staff pays off in the long run for both employers and employees.

The national campaign is being spearheaded by 25 doctor groups (IPAs), with funding and support from the Government pharmaceutical funding agency PHARMAC and support from the Royal NZ College of GPs.

It aims to dispel the myth that antibiotics can treat a virus like the flu. Instead people should be using remedies such as plenty of rest, fluids, paracetamol, steam inhalations, decongestants, and throat lozenges and gargles.

Dr Eileen Sables, of Pakuranga, says the message is getting through to those people who traditionally were reluctant to take time off when they had the flu. One way for this momentum to continue is for employers to encourage staff suffering from winter ailments stay at home and rest.

“I am writing out fewer prescriptions for antibiotics and people are taking note which is excellent news. However there are still too many cases of people battling on at work and not giving themselves time to fully recover from the effects of colds and flu. Of course, it isn’t just employees who need to give themselves time to recover, the same is true for employers.”

Dr Eileen Sables says this “battle-on” attitude does more harm than good. Not only are other staff members being put at risk, but a sick employee won’t be as productive. They may also end up getting other illnesses and need to take even more time off down the track.

“It is better to have one day resting in bed if you feel ill than to get really sick because you haven’t listened to what your body is saying.


“There’s no denying that having staff on sick leave can add pressure, but the consequences of them not getting the rest they need could be worse. Being short a staff member for one or two days is the best option.”

She says the best way to find out if someone needs antibiotics or not is to see a doctor who will distinguish between bacterial or viral infections.

“If you need an antibiotic you will get one. However if you have a cold or the flu the best treatment for you is rest and simple medicines such as paracetamol.”

Dr Eileen Sables says that a lot of progress has already been made with reports of a decrease in antibiotic prescribing, while independent research has also revealed that the public is taking on the message.

“We are moving in the right direction in terms of the use of antibiotics but we mustn’t be complacent. The momentum needs to continue so more and more people recognise that often antibiotics are not the answer.”

[ends]

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