NHS hospital staff absences through Covid quadruple in London

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    HS hospital staff absences due to Covid have nearly quadrupled in London since the beginning of December, new figures show.

    A total of 4,580 NHS staff at hospital trusts in London were ill with coronavirus or having to self-isolate on Boxing Day [Dec 26], up 18 per cent on the previous week and nearly four times the 1,174 at the start of the month.

    The new figures from NHS England published on Friday, also show that the number reached as high as 5,994 on December 23, but has fallen over Christmas Eve to Boxing Day.

    While London has seen the steepest growth since the start of the month, other regions have seen bigger percentage increases than the capital in the most recent week.

    (PA Graphics) / PA Graphics

    The north west of England saw a week-on-week rise of 55 per cent from 2,558 on December 19 to 3,966 on Boxing Day, while Covid absences rose by 43 per cent in the North East and Yorkshire over this period.

    The South West had the lowest percentage increase, up 13 per cent week-on-week from 1,682 to 1,898.

    At Sheffield Teaching Hospitals trust, 1,144 staff were absent for Covid-19 reasons on December 26, up from 699 on December 19, while Manchester University trust reported 835 absences, up from 548.

    Other trusts with steep jumps in Covid-19-related absences include University Hospitals of Leicester (522 on December 26, up from 356 a week earlier), Nottingham University (791, up from 658) and Leeds Teaching Hospitals (502, up from 364).

    The NHS England data also showed that of 13,480 hospital patients in England who were medically fit to leave on Boxing Day, 9,288 (69 per cent) were still in hospital.

    This is a slightly higher proportion than a week earlier, when 10,576 of 15,718 patients (67 per cent) were still in hospital, though the number waiting to be discharged was lower.

    The reasons for not discharging these patients will include a lack of space in care homes or ongoing discussions with local social services over levels of support.

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