Covid behind more than a third of staff absences at King’s Mill Hospital

Coronavirus was the reason behind more than a third of NHS staff absences at Sherwood Forest Hospitals NHS Trust on Boxing Day, figures show.

By Federica Bedendo
Wednesday, 5th January 2022, 4:26 pm
King's Mill Hospital in Sutton, part of Sherwood Forest Hospitals NHS Trust.
King's Mill Hospital in Sutton, part of Sherwood Forest Hospitals NHS Trust.

Prof Stephen Powis, NHS England medical director, said health services are on ‘a war footing’, with Covid-related staff absences more than doubling in a fortnight.

NHS England data shows 354 staff at Sherwood Forest Hospitals NHS Trust – which runs King’s Mill in Sutton, as well as Mansfield Community and Newark hospitals – were off sick on December 26, the latest date for which data is available.

Of them, 135, or 38 per cent, were off because they had Covid-19, or were self-isolating due to the virus.

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This was a 6 per cent decrease on a week before, when 143 Covid-related absences were recorded.

Rob Simcox, trust deputy human resources director, said: “We do have a number of colleagues who are either isolating or off sick with Covid-19 at the moment.

“However, we have plans in place to help mitigate any sickness absence and to ensure that safe staffing levels across the trust are maintained.“Our hospitals are under pressure and we continue to ask our community to think carefully about which NHS services they use.

“If you are unsure, visit NHS 111 online and they will direct you to the best place for your care.

“We are also encouraging everyone who is eligible to book a booster vaccine at the numerous sites across Nottinghamshire to help protect themselves, their family and their friends.”

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.

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Prof Powis said new nurses and reservists were being recruited to deal with pressures, as Nightingale hubs are being set-up across the country to tackle a surge in coronavirus patients.

He 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 10-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 said 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.

However, calls are growing on the Government to cut this further, after the US Government slashed the self-isolation period to five days for asymptomatic cases.

Chris Hopson, NHS Providers chief executive, said staff absences could pose a bigger challenge to the health service than patients needing treatment for the virus, with staff having to be redeployed to fill gaps.

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