Hospital chief's help pledge to under pressure staff

More than one in twenty working days were lost by hospital workers in South Tyneside as the Omicron variant of coronavirus stretched health services to the limit, new data shows.
Kath Griffin.Kath Griffin.
Kath Griffin.

NHS Digital figures show 7.05% of working days for staff in the South Tyneside and Sunderland NHS Foundation Trust were lost in December 2021 – as absences in England reached close to their pandemic peak.

Other figures show that 6.78% of nurses and health visitors, 1.46% of doctors and 12.01% of midwives were absent.

This includes 600 days lost due to Covid-19.

South Tyneside District Hospital.South Tyneside District Hospital.
South Tyneside District Hospital.
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The Royal College of Nursing said overstretched workers are at breaking point, with many experienced nurses leaving the profession, while the British Medical Association has called on the Government to "focus on the protection and wellbeing" of the NHS workforce.

Kath Griffin, the Trust's executive director of human resources and organisational development, said: “The health and wellbeing of our staff is one of our absolutely priorities. We know that the past two years have taken their toll and have introduced a number of extra health and wellbeing measures throughout the pandemic and actively recruited temporary and permanent staff to further support the organisation.

"We had a particularly difficult winter period this year as the Omicron variant was much more transmissible and affected large numbers of staff and their families on top of the usual absences we would expect to see at this time of year.”

She added: "Despite this, our staff continue to go above and beyond to safely care for the large numbers of patients we continue to see and we are extremely proud of everyone and grateful for all that they do to put our patients needs first and foremost."

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NHS staff absences in England soared to 6.17% in December – with mental health reasons accounting for 23.7% of them.

Dr David Wrigley, council deputy chair at the BMA, called for greater Covid-19 testing, adding: “We need a focus on the protection and wellbeing of NHS workers, with a long-term national workforce strategy to grow the workforce and retain the experienced staff we have.”

The Department for Health and Social Care said it is supporting the health and wellbeing of NHS staff by providing targeted psychological support and treatment, occupational health sessions, and investment in "wellbeing conversations".