CORONAVIRUS caused hospital staff to lose nearly 20,000 working days last year, figures show.
NHS Digital data shows the equivalent of 131,459 days of full-time staff were lost to illness at hospitals in eastern Lancashire NHS Trust between March and December.
About one in seven people (19,082) was due to Covid-19, with staff most affected by the end of the year.
Staff at hospitals in East Lancashire were absent for 4,667 days due to the coronavirus in November, but were least affected in August – losing 327 days.
About 2.5 million days have been lost in the NHS across England due to the virus, giving an overall sickness absenteeism rate of 4.7% between March and December.
Dr David Wrigley, vice chairman of the BMA, said: ‘We know the NHS has entered the pandemic under staffed and these disturbing figures show how Covid-19 has rendered a serious labor shortage even more desperate work.
âCovid-related staff absences, coupled with the significant negative impact on the mental health and well-being of NHS staff over the past year, have forced more staff to take time off work, threatening the very ability of the NHS to provide essential services.
More than half a million days were lost across England due to stress, anxiety, depression or other psychiatric illnesses in December – the highest of any month, according to figures since the start of the pandemic.
NHS Providers, the membership organization for trusts in England, said the coronavirus and the usual winter pressure were having a huge impact on staff, with hospitals still having to contend with the ripple effects.
Deputy Managing Director Saffron Cordery said the “remarkable” work of the NHS during this difficult time should not be taken for granted, and called for long-term support.
She added: ‘We are urging the government to ensure that the NHS has the right levels of staff to build flexibility into the system by providing a fully costed and funded national workforce plan.
“This will help relieve the pressure on staff, making it easier to cover sick leave, while ensuring a manageable workload and a better work-life balance.”
NHS figures also show that support staff for doctors, nurses and midwives at hospitals in East Lancashire were most often absent.