More than 45,000 National Health Service (NHS) staff in the UK call in sick to work everyday, lowering standards of patient care, according to a new study into NHS staff habits.

The first national NHS Health and Wellbeing Review found that the NHS loses 10.3 million working days annually due to sickness absence, costing £1.7bn per year, according to UK newspaper The Telegraph.

The study said that improved health of 1.4 million NHS staff or a reduction of a third in the absentism due to sickness could save over half a billion pounds every year.

More than one in five of NHS staff smokes and many NHS workers drink in moderation while only half of NHS staff exercise on three days or more each week, the review said.

The study also found that people who are working for more than eight hours have higher rates of becoming sick and that NHS workers were more likely to pick up illness and infections through their work.

Some of the major reasons for sickness are musculoskeletal disorders, which account for nearly half of all NHS staff absence, while more than a quarter of absences are caused by stress, depression and anxiety, according to the study that covered 11,000-plus members of staff.