Rise in staff absences at Shropshire hospitals because of Covid

Coronavirus was the reason behind a third of NHS staff absences at Shrewsbury and Telford's hospitals on Boxing Day, figures show.

NHS England data shows that 542 staff at Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital NHS Trust were off sick on December 26 (the latest date for which data is available) with 181 off because they had Covid-19, or were self-isolating due to the virus.

This was a 25 per cent increase on figures for the week before, when 145 Covid-related absences were recorded.

At the Robert Jones and Agnes Hunt Orthopaedic Hospital NHS Foundation Trust at Gobowen near Oswestry there were 86 staff off sick on December 26.

Of them, 27 were off because they had Covid-19, or were self-isolating due to the virus - an increase of five on the previous week, when 22 Covid-related absences were recorded.

The specialist hospital has restricted all visiting at The Robert Jones and Agnes Hunt Orthopaedic Hospital until further notice.

The hospital is closed to visitors except those wanting to visit any patients on an end-of-life care pathway.

Any other relatives who feel they have exceptional circumstances as to why they should be allowed to visit will need to discuss on a case-by-case basis with the nurse-in-charge.

Nationally, England's medical director, Stephen Powis, has said that health services are on "a war footing", with Covid-related staff absences more than doubling in a fortnight.

Across England, the number of NHS staff off work due to Covid increased from 18,800 on December 19, to 24,600 on Boxing Day – a 31 per cent rise.

The English Government has let it be known that it believes that its restrictions are enough to deal with the outbreak of the Omicron variant of Covid.

However the Welsh and Scottish governments have brought in more stringent restrictions for its populations including closing down nightclubs and restricting pubs and restaurants to table service only.

Professor Powis said: "We don’t yet know the full scale of rising omicron cases and how this will affect people needing NHS treatment, but having hit a ten-month high for the number of patients in hospital with Covid while wrestling with sharply increasing staff absences, we are doing everything possible to free up beds and get people home to their loved ones."

He added that keeping as many NHS staff as possible at work in the next few weeks would be essential.

People who receive negative lateral flow results on day six and day seven of their self-isolation period – with tests taken 24 hours apart – no longer have to stay indoors for a full 10 days.

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