NHS Covid: the number of Birmingham University Hospitals Trust staff absences linked to Covid

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With Health Secretary Sajid Javid expected to announce a U-turn on making Covid vaccinations compulsory for frontline NHS staff, sickness levels in local health trusts are being highlighted

As the government discusses a U-turn on making Covid vaccinations compulsory frontline NHS staff the latest staff absence figures for Birmingham University Hospitals Trust are being highlighted.

The Trust is the home of Good Hope Hospital, Heartlands Hospital, Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham and Solihull Hospital.

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Latest NHS England data shows that more than two in five NHS staff absences at Birmingham University Hospitals Trust were linked to Covid-19 in the week ending (January 23) - above the national average.

NHS England data shows an average of 1,622 staff were off sick each day in the week to January 23 - with roughly 671 (41%) off daily because they had Covid-19 or were self-isolating due to the virus.

However, this was down from the week before, when 42% of absent staff were off for Covid-related reasons.

Across England, an average of 72,000 NHS workers were off sick every day last week, with 42% absent due to Covid – though this was down from 46% the week before.

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NHS Providers said hospitals were under "sustained" pressure, despite a recent fall in Covid-19 cases in the community nationally.

NHS staff absences due to Covid releasedNHS staff absences due to Covid released
NHS staff absences due to Covid released | Radar PA

What other pressures are NHS staff at University Hospitals Birmingham Trust facing?

The data also shows 2,048 people arrived at University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust A&E by ambulance in the week to January 23 – down from 2,074 the week before.

Of the arrivals last week, 707 (35%) waited more than 30 minutes before being handed over to A&E staff, with 287 (14%) waiting more than an hour.

The figures show the latest seven days were the busiest for ambulance arrivals at A&E departments in England so far this winter – 85,500 were logged by NHS trusts.

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Separate figures show an average of 90,600 adult general and acute beds were open each day in the week to January 23 across hospitals in England, with 84,300 (93%) occupied.

At Birmingham University Hospitals Trust, 2,231 beds were occupied each day on average last week – 96% of the 2,329 available.

This was broadly in line with the previous week.

What have NHS bosses said about the pressures that University Hospitals?

Saffron Cordery, deputy chief executive of NHS Providers, the body that represents health trusts in England, said the figures showed hospitals were “operating under sustained pressure,” despite a recent fall in Covid-19 cases.

She added: “We know that success in reducing delayed discharges is dependent on having enough staff to facilitate discharges and support patients once they are ready to return home or to other community settings.

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“That’s why we are pleased to see that the number of staff absences due to Covid-19 is now decreasing after the Omicron peak, although it’s important to recognise that the total number of staff absences remains high.”

Professor Stephen Powis, NHS England’s national medical director, said: “While it is positive to see more NHS staff back at work, pressure on the NHS is still intense, having seen the busiest week for ambulances taking patients to A&E since the start of December – all while pushing to deliver as many routine checks and procedures as possible, including vital diagnostic checks.

“Our staff have already had what feels like a long winter, but despite everything they have had to contend with, they continue to step up as they always do.”

He added the NHS was continuing to work closely with the adult social care sector to ensure patients are safely discharged.

A message from the editor:

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