Figures reveal impact of winter and Covid pressures at Sherwood Forest Hospitals Trust

The impact of winter pressures and the Omicron variant of coronavirus on Sherwood Forest Hospitals NHS Trust have been laid bare.

By Federica Bedendo
Monday, 17th January 2022, 9:06 pm

Hospitals across the country are grappling with staff absences and an increase in demand, while ambulance handover delays and bed blocking are adding strain on services.

NHS England data shows an average of 571 staff at SFH – which runs Mansfield Community, Sutton’s King’s Mill and Newark hospitals – were off sick across the week to January 9, with an average of 342, 60 per cent, off because they had Covid-19, or were self-isolating due to the virus.

This was up from the week before when an average of 47 per cent of staff were off each day for Covid-related reasons.

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King's Mill Hospital, Sutton, and, inset, Simon Barton, Sherwood Forest Hospitals NHS Trust chief operating officer.

The data also shows 745 people arrived at the trust by ambulance in the week to January 9, with none waiting more than an hour.

The NHS has a target of 15 minutes for ambulance handovers, but only delays longer than half an hour are recorded.

Simon Barton, trust chief operating officer, said: “We apologise to patients who have had to wait longer than we or they would have liked for their admission.

“We would like to thank our community for helping us by using our urgent and emergency services appropriately.

"As part of our winter plan and Covid surge plans we have opened a significant number of additional beds and teams across our hospitals continue to work incredibly hard to maintain levels of routine activity, discharge patients as soon as they are well enough to leave our care and to admit patients coming in by ambulance as quickly as possible. Our partners across health and social care are also doing all they can to support.

“I would like to thank colleagues across our hospitals for what they are doing to support patient care during this surge – they do a remarkable job.

“We continue to ask the public to help us by getting vaccinated against Covid-19 and flu to help protect themselves and to use 111 online if it is not an emergency.”

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Absences

Prof Stephen Powis, NHS national medical director, said Omicron had increased the number of people in hospital with Covid, while ‘drastically’ reducing the number of staff able to work.

He said: “Staff aren’t machines and with the number of Covid absences almost doubling over the last fortnight and frontline NHS colleagues determined to get back to providing even more routine treatments, it is vital the public plays their part to help the NHS by getting your booster vaccine.”

Separate figures show bed blocking was also causing issues at trusts across England last week, with 72 per cent of patients deemed fit to leave hospital on January 9 – the latest date for which data is available – failing to be discharged.

At SFH, 45 patients were eligible for discharge on January 9, and all left hospital.

Meanwhile, waiting lists for routine treatments are also at an all-time high nationally, with six million people waiting for non-urgent elective operations or treatment at the end of November, up from 5.98 million the month before.

NHS England figures show 38,138 patients at SFH were on the waiting list at the end of the month – though this was 683 fewer than the month before.

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