Covid related staff absences more than double in some Birmingham NHS Trusts

The number of NHS staff absent from work in England has increased by almost 200%, adding to concerns that the Omicron variant could lead to the NHS being overwhelmed

One NHS Hospital Trust in the Birmingham region has seen a 226.2% change in Covid-19 related staff absences between the week of 29 November to 5 December and 27 December to 2 January.

This is according to new data from the NHS.

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As well as this increase, Sandwell and West Birmingham Hospitals Trust has had a 70.94% change in total absences within the same time.

The national average for total staff absences has changed by 37.32% compared to the 29 November to 5 December.

There is a significant change in the percentage of NHS staff absent from work due to Covid-19 this week compared to 29 November to 5 December, with a 197.7% change.

In the Midlands region, the total staff absences change was 33.60% in the last month, whilst the Covid-19 related absences had a 151.% rise.

There was an average of 35,596 hospital staff absent due to Covid-19 in the week to January 2, compared to 11,957 in the week to December 5.

More than three quarters of English hospital trusts also had potentially dangerously busy wards in the week to January 2.

Hospitals are considered to be too busy if more than 85% of their available general and acute beds are occupied by patients.

After this, patient care is thought to be compromised.

Birmingham Women’s and Children’s NHS Foundation Trust

At Birmingham Women’s and Children’s NHS Foundation Trust, there was a total staff absences percentage change between this week and the week of 29 to 5 December of 29.24%.

For the week of 29 November to 5 December, there was an average of 382 staff absences and a month later this figure was 494.

Covid-19 related absences were at an average of 111 for the week of 29 November to 5 December and 234 from 27 December to 2 January, a percentage change of 111.2%

In last month, the general and acute bed occupancy has not reached 85%, the highest average was 70.2% during the week 29 Nov - 5 Dec

Royal Orthopaedic Hospital NHS Foundation Trust

At the Royal Orthopaedic Hospital NHS Foundation Trust there was an average daily absences total of 90 in the week of 29 November to 5 December

Four weeks later, this number rose to 143, a rise of 58.80%.

In terms of those absences related to Covid-19, there has been a staggering percentage change of 184.9% compared to a month ago.

The average for 29 November to 5 December was 26, and this number on the week of 27 December to 2 January was up to 73.

In the last month, the general and acute bed occupancy has not reached the 85% threshold, with the highest average being 78.5% for the week of 6 -12 Dec.

University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust

At the University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust, there was an average daily absences total of 1,276 in the week of 29 November to 5 December.

This number was 1,573 in the week of 27 December to 2 January, a percentage change of 23.28%

For Covid-19 absences, there was an average of 199 for the week of 29 November to 5 December and this number rose to 495 for the weeo of 27 December to 2 Janaury.

The shows as a significant percentage change of 148%.

In the last month, the general and acute bed occupancy has surpassed 85% each week with the highest average being 96% for the week of 6 -12 Dec.

Sandwell and West Birmingham Hospitals NHS Trust

In the week of 29 November to 5 December, there was an average daily absences number of 451.

For the week covering the last week of December and start of January, this number was 771 - signifying a percentage change of 70.94%.

In terms of Covid-19 related absences, there was an average of 80 in the 29 November to 5 December week and rose to 260 for the week of 27 December to 2 January - a staggering rise of 226.2%.

In the last month, the general and acute bed occupancy has surpassed 85% each week with the highest average being 96.6% for the week of 13-19 December and hasn’t been below 86.1% .

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.”