Sunderland and South Tyneside NHS trust sees 350% rise in Covid hospital cases as it praises 'heroic efforts' of staff

The number of covid cases in hospital in Sunderland and South Tyneside has more than quadrupled in two weeks, health chiefs have confirmed.

The South Tyneside and Sunderland Trust has seen an increase from 27 cases in hospital on Thursday, December 23, to 129 cases on Thursday, January 6 – a rise of more than 350%.

The trust says the situation is a result of the extremely high transmission of the Omicron variant and the number of emergency patients admitted for other reasons, who are then also found to have COVID-19.

And bosses have praised the ‘heroic’ efforts of staff in tackling the crisis, with more than 10% of the workforce currently unavailable due to the impact of COVID-19, illness and self-isolation.

Dr Shahid Wahid has praised staff at South Tyneside General and Sunderland Royal Hospitals

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They have reassured patients and the public that local NHS services will still be available but warned of some disruption to planned services over the coming weeks.

The trust has already taken a number of steps to reduce the current pressures, including redeployment of some corporate staff to support frontline colleagues and the suspension of visiting to all adult inpatient wards to help prevent the spread of infection.

Other steps being taken include:

*Some non-urgent routine outpatient appointments being postponed over the next few weeks to allow medical staff to support the current pressures within

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both hospitals;

*Some non-urgent routine community visits being postponed so that community staff can focus on clinically urgent care including End of Life support, as well as supporting the rapid co-ordination of safe discharge of patients from hospital.

Maternity services are also impacted by significant staffing challenges and women who are due to give birth over the coming weeks will deliver their babies at Sunderland Royal Hospital.

Dr Shahid Wahid, Executive Medical Director at South Tyneside and Sunderland NHS Foundation Trust said: “It has been an exceptionally busy start to 2022 and our

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staff have been absolutely fantastic, as they always are, in such difficult circumstances.

“Although we are under pressure, we are coping well and our absolute priority is the safety and wellbeing of patients. We have had to make some changes to a small number our planned services and we are in touch directly with any patients who are directly impacted.

“Members of the public can really help us at this busy time by using services in the right way. Our Emergency Departments are extremely busy so please only attend if it is a serious or life threatening emergency and consider points of contact such as 111 online or your local pharmacy for advice.

“Please remember that the whole NHS is extremely busy right now so above all, please be patient and kind. Our staff are working tirelessly, as they have done for almost two years in managing the pandemic so please do not abuse them.”

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All patients who are impacted by disruptions in the coming weeks will be personally contacted by the Trust and health leaders are keen to reassure people that all other services are running as usual.

If you are not contacted please attend your appointment as planned.

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