Leeds hospitals under strain as almost 1,000 staff members off with Covid-related absences, data shows

Hospitals in Leeds are under strain as almost 1,000 members of staff were forced to isolate or sign off sick due to Covid.

By Rebecca Marano
Saturday, 8th January 2022, 4:45 am

The latest figures from NHS England show that 983 members of staff at Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust were absent due to Covid on January 2, which is the latest data available and was published on Friday, January 7.

This is a 95.8 per cent increase - almost double - on the previous week, when 502 Covid-related absences were recorded.

Figures show that across Yorkshire and the North East, 8,788 staff were off with Covid or self isolating on January 2, up from 4,179 the previous week. That is an increase of 110 per cent.

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Figures show that across Yorkshire and the North East, 8,788 staff were off with Covid or self isolating on January 2. Ambulance are pictured parked outside Leeds General Infirmary hospital in Leeds (OLI SCARFF/AFP via Getty Images).

The overall number of absences, for all sickness reasons, at NHS trusts in the region increased by 39 per cent over that seven-day period, from 12,880 to 17,910. That is the largest increase in the country.

In Leeds, the overall number of absences recorded on January 2 was 1,911, compared to 1,407 on December 26.

It comes Leeds hospitals continue to be 'extremely busy' with general and acute adult bed occupancy occupancy surpassing national targets.

General and acute beds are for people admitted from A&E, by their GP, or who are recovering post surgery. It excludes beds in intensive care, maternity, and mental health wards.

Hospitals are considered to be too busy if more than 85 per cent of their available general and acute beds are occupied by patients. After this, patient care is thought to be compromised.

On average, the number of general and acute bed occupancy in the week from December 27 to Jan 2 was 90.4 per cent.

This is above the national target, but a decrease on the previous week when the average was 91 per cent (20-26 Dec).

Covid rates for Leeds have increased significantly over the past seven days, and currently stand at 1775.2 per 100,000 people.

This is an increase of 56 percent compared to the previous week.

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Dr Phil Wood, Chief Medical Officer, Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust, said: “We’re incredibly grateful to all our staff, who continue to work extremely hard under challenging circumstances, as Covid-19 cases in the region continue to rise substantially.

“Leeds Teaching Hospitals has the largest trust workforce in the region, and as such the numbers of staff isolating with Covid-19 is reflective of that.

"This increase is being experienced across all NHS health and social care organisations, together with continued pressures on urgent care, which means all services are extremely busy.

“We continue to plan and prepare for the increased demand on our services and to encourage anyone who is feeling unwell but doesn’t need emergency care to contact NHS 111 online for advice or an appointment with the appropriate service.

“Anyone not yet vaccinated should also take this opportunity to protect themselves and their loved ones, with numerous options for vaccination across the city, including walk in centres.”

NHS national medical director Professor Stephen Powis said: “Omicron means more patients to treat and fewer staff to treat them.

"In fact, around 10,000 more colleagues across the NHS were absent each day last week compared with the previous seven days and almost half of all absences are now down to Covid.

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

“Those staff are stepping up as they always do; answering a quarter more 111 calls last week than the week before, dealing with an increasing number of ambulance call outs, and working closely with colleagues in social care to get people out of hospital safely.

“You can help us to help you by ensuring you are vaccinated against Covid.

“And as has been the case throughout the pandemic, if you have a health problem, please go to 111 online and call 999 when it is a life threatening condition – the NHS is here for you.”

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