Coronavirus behind half of NHS staff absences at nearly full Manchester hospitals

Coronavirus and the emerging Omicron variant was the reason behind around half of the total NHS staff absences at hospitals across Manchester, as well as potentially dangerously high general and acute bed occupancy.
Watch more of our videos on Shots! 
and live on Freeview channel 276
Visit Shots! now

Coronavirus and the emerging Omicron variant was the reason behind around half of the total NHS staff absences at hospitals across Manchester, as well as high bed occupancy, according to figures.

Official statistics from NHS England shows that as of January 2 - the latest date for which data is available - there are a total of 5,572 staff absences across all six of Manchester’s Foundation Trusts, and 44.8% are Covid-19 related.

As well as that, all hospitals are operating with over 85% general and acute bed occupancy, which is the threshold at which patient care is said to be compromised.

General and acute beds are for people admitted from A&E, by their GP, or who are recovering post surgery. It excludes beds in intensive care, maternity, and mental health wards.

Bolton NHS Foundation Trust

  • 90.3% occupancy of general and acute beds for the week of 27 December to 2 January, has not dipped below 90% in the last month
  • 385 total staff absences in week leading up to December 5 compared to 676 as of January 2 - 34.2% rise
  • 56 Covid-related staff absences in week leading up to December 5 compared to 336 as of January 2 - 502% rise and 49.7% of total staff absences related to coronavirus

Christie NHS Foundation Trust

  • 161 total staff absences in week leading up to December 5 compared to 298 as of January 2 - 85.03% rise
  • 24 Covid-related staff absences in week leading up to December 5 compared to 172 as of January 2 - 614.9% rise and 57.72% of total staff absences related to coronavirus

Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust

  • 85.8% occupancy of general and acute beds for the week of December 27 to January 2, dipped below 85% threshold once between 20-26 December (84.4%)
  • 1,948 total staff absences in week leading up to December 5 compared to 2,930 as of January 2 - 50.41% rise
  • 306 Covid-related staff absences in week leading up to December 5 compared to 1,293 as of January 2 - 322% rise and 44.13% of total staff absences related to coronavirus

Tameside and Glossop NHS Foundation Trust

  • 97.2% occupancy of general and acute beds for the week of December 27 to January 2 - has  not dipped below 93% in the last month
  • 270 total staff absences in week leading up to December 5 compared to 403 as of January 2 -49.18% rise
  • 40 Covid-related staff absences in week leading up to December 5 compared to 164 as of January 2 - 314% rise and 40.69% of total staff absences related to coronavirus

Stockport NHS Foundation Trust

  • 97.2% occupancy of general and acute beds for the week of December 27 to January 2 - has  not dipped below 93% in the last month
  • 445 total staff absences in week leading up to December 5 compared to 551 as of January 2 -23.85% rise
  • 55 Covid-related staff absences in week leading up to December 5 compared to 215 as of January 2 - 294.5% rise and 39.02% of total staff absences related to coronavirus

Wrightington, Wigan and Leigh NHS Foundation Trust

  • 98.6% occupancy of general and acute beds for the week of December 27 to January 2 - had back to back weeks with 100% occupancy between November 29 and December 12
  • 465 total staff absences in week leading up to December 5 compared to 714 as of January 2 -53.49% rise
  • 82 Covid-related staff absences in week leading up to December 5 compared to 315 as of January 2 - 285.5% rise and 44.12% of total staff absences related to coronavirus

The stats are in-line with national and regional averages reported by the NHS, with the number of workers having to take time-off to deal with Covid-related issues more than tripling across the North West (263%).

Whilst in England, numbers have more than doubled over the last month (197.7%).

The national average for general and acute bed occupancy sits at 89%, which again is in-line with stats reported across Manchester hospitals.

NHS national medical director Professor Stephen Powis said: “Omicron means more patients to treat and fewer staff to treat them.

“In fact, around 10,000 more colleagues across the NHS were absent each day last week compared with the previous seven days and almost half of all absences are now down to Covid.

“While we don’t know the full scale of the potential impact this new strain will have it’s clear it spreads more easily and, as a result, Covid cases in hospitals are the highest they’ve been since February last year – piling even more pressure on hard working staff.

“Those staff are stepping up as they always do; answering a quarter more 111 calls last week than the week before, dealing with an increasing number of ambulance call outs, and working closely with colleagues in social care to get people out of hospital safely.

“You can help us to help you by ensuring you are vaccinated against Covid.”