Number of Yorkshire hospital staff off with Covid revealed as NHS boss warns they 'aren’t machines'

The number of NHS staff who were off sick with Covid-19 or self isolating in Yorkshire and the North East has fallen, according to new figures.

Hospital trusts in the region recorded 8,125 Covid-related staff absences on January 9, down 7.5 per cent compared to the previous week. Over that seven-day period the overall number of absences fell from 17,910 to 16,188.

In Yorkshire, Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust was found to have the highest number of staff off due to Covid (1,071). That is up from 983 the previous week.

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The NHS said hospitals remain under significant pressure as they deal with staff absences, a surge in hospital admissions driven by the spread of the Omicron variant and the usual winter pressures.

8,125 hospital staff in Yorkshire and the North East were off with Covid or self isolating on January 9

It comes as 40 military personnel have been drafted in to help Yorkshire Ambulance Service transfer patients, as it is struggling with a severe staff shortage and recently suspended its transfer service for patients attending routine appointments.

New NHS figures show a record 12,986 people had to wait more than 12 hours in A&E departments in England in December from a decision to admit to actually being admitted.

Meanwhile, just 73.3 per cent of patients in England were seen within four hours at A&Es in December, the lowest percentage since records began.

The Government has announced the self isolation for people who test positive for Covid-19 will be cut to five days and NHS bosses hope the move will ease their staffing issues.

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Overall, 40,031 NHS staff at hospital trusts in England were absent for Covid-19 reasons on January 9, up 2 per cent on the previous week (39,142).

At the start of December, just 12,508 staff were off with Covid or were self-isolating, according to figures from NHS England.

However, that figure peaked at 49,941 on January 5 and it has dropped every day since then.

The largest percentage drop was in London, where 4,167 hospital staff were ill with coronavirus or having to self-isolate on January 9, down 13 per cent on the previous week (4,765).

Professor Stephen Powis, said: “Omicron has increased the number of people in hospital with Covid at the same time as drastically reducing the number of staff who are able to work.

“Despite this, once again, NHS staff pulled out all the stops to keep services going for patients – there have been record numbers of life-threatening ambulance call-outs, we have vaccinated thousands of people each day and that is on top of delivering routine care and continuing to recover the backlog.

“But 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 that the public plays their part to help the NHS by getting your booster vaccine, if you haven’t already.”

Tim Gardner, senior policy fellow at the Health Foundation, said the latest data showed the “NHS being stretched to its limits in December” as Omicron hit.

“Waiting times in A&E departments increased to the longest on record, while nearly 13,000 patients spent over 12 hours on trolleys waiting for a hospital bed,” he said.

“The severe strain on the NHS has been compounded by thousands of hospital staff off sick or self-isolating due to Covid-19. The urgent need for a fully-funded workforce plan is long overdue.”