Absences of East Lancashire hospital staff exposed

Troops are preparing to support the NHS during the current wave of Covid-19, as staff absences from the virus increased 59% nationwide in seven days.

NHS England data shows 1,039 East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Trust staff were on sick leave on January 2 – the latest date for which data is available.

Of these, 475 (46%) were extinct because they had Covid-19, or were self-isolating because of the virus.

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Burnley General Hospital

This is an increase of more than double compared to the previous week, when 206 Covid-related absences were recorded.

Across England, the number of NHS workers on sick leave due to Covid fell from 24,600 on December 26 to 39,100 on January 2.

Based on monthly workforce data for September – the most recent available – figures suggest that one in 25 NHS staff working in short-term hospital trusts is absent for Covid-related reasons .

The military said it could offer assistance to more hospitals across the UK if needed, after 40 military medics and 160 general duty staff were recruited to help fill gaps caused by absences of NHS staff in London.

Royal Blackburn Hospital

Air Commodore John Lyle said: “We can’t really plan too far, but certainly throughout this current wave we know it’s particularly difficult in London right now, but we are aware that this is having an impact across the UK.

“We remain in discussion and there are a number of areas where we are looking at the potential for further assistance.”

NHS National Medical Director Professor Stephen Powis said the increase in Covid-19 cases “put even more pressure” on hospital workers.

He said: “Omicron means more patients to treat and less staff to treat them.

“While we don’t know the magnitude of the potential impact this new strain will have, it is clear that it spreads more easily and, as a result, Covid cases in hospitals are the highest since February of last year – piling even more pressure on hard-working staff. “

Patricia Marquis, director of the Royal College of Nursing for England, said the situation was not certain.

She said: “Outside of healthcare, staff shortages are closing shops and canceling trains, but nurses cannot stop helping their patients.

“Instead, they end up spreading thinner and thinner, but they also can’t keep spinning the plates indefinitely.”

Matthew Taylor, chief executive of the NHS Confederation, which represents health authorities and trusts, said people should not feel “concerned” about the presence of military personnel in hospitals.

He added: ‘The NHS is not going to disintegrate – it has been facing this crisis for two years and it will face it again and NHS managers will burn the midnight oil thinking about how they deploy their resources to deal with the things that are most urgent. “

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