Exclusive figures show Hull hospital staff sickness worse than ever
Staff sickness at Hull’s hospitals is reportedly worse than ever with more than 600 off ill or isolating due to Covid-19 in one week, Hull Live can exclusively reveal. A total of 605 staff have taken sick days in the week up to Boxing Day which is a big rise on the previous week and represents 1,770 days lost, latest NHS England figures show. Despite the new Omicron variant not causing such severe illness as the Delta strain, it’s high transmissibility is causing problems.
For the latest coronavirus news click here. While the festive season may have seen some improvements in waiting times or the numbers waiting to go home from hospital, the Omicron wave is seeing increasing numbers of staff absent at either Hull Royal Infirmary or Castle Hill Hospital. The 1,770 days were lost at Hull University Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust in the week ending December 26, which is down to staff being sick or self-isolating due to Covid.
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That was up 30 per cent from 1,361 the week before, and up 64 per cent from 1,078 days lost a fortnight ago.
The 605 staff absent for any reason on December 26 is the equivalent of one in 15 members of staff being off. Demand on NHS resources meant 85 ambulances had to wait more than 30 minutes to handover patients at Hull’s A&Es last week including 11 waiting more than an hour.
The target is for handovers to take under 15 minutes. That has improved from the previous week when 135 ambulances waited half-an-hour or longer with 38 waiting more than an hour.
Delays to discharges in other parts of the hospital can make it more difficult to admit people from A&E. On Sunday, Hull University Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust had 45 beds occupied by patients who no longer needed to be in hospital, but who hadn’t been discharged.
Hull Royal Infirmary (Image: Jon Corken/Hull Live)
Julia Mizon, deputy chief operating officer for Hull University Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust, said: “The Trust has developed surge plans which are designed to flex according to service needs and demands. “Rising staff absence is one scenario which our health groups have planned for in detail and by moving a limited number of clinical and non-clinical staff to support in different areas, we have been able to ensure the majority of routine services have continued as planned.
“This is something we will continue to monitor, however members of the public can also help to reduce rising community infections rates by getting their Covid vaccinations and carrying out regular lateral flow testing.” Across England, the total number of days lost due to Covid staff absence increased by 42 per cent in the week ending December 26 compared to the week before. There has been a 96 per cent increase over the last two weeks, meaning Covid related staff absences have nearly doubled.
Dr Chaand Nagpaul, BMA council chair, said: “These statistics show the BMA’s repeated warnings about the impact of Omicron on the NHS workforce being realised. “Not only are doctors incredibly worried about the rising number of people in hospital with Covid-19 – now at the highest level since early March – but also the health service’s ability to provide vital care to all patients, with more than 24,000 staff now off sick with Covid or self-isolating. That’s the equivalent of 178 staff off work at each acute trust in England.
“At the very time the NHS is standing up hundreds of extra beds in ‘Nightingale’ units to prepare for a surge in hospital admissions, the number of staff absences is rising and today’s figures underline the futility of increasing bed capacity with fewer people to staff it.
“Furthermore, these statistics do not take into account staff at GP practices, community hospitals or other healthcare settings, so in reality the number will be much higher – and the impact on patients much further-reaching.
With a record backlog in care, we cannot afford to be losing such a high number of staff.”
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