Covid-19: How Omicron is continuing to affect Greater Manchester’s hospitals

More staff are off sick or having to self-isolate due to Covid-19 but fewer ambulances are facing long waits to hand over patients.

The Omicron variant of Covid-19 is continuing to have an impact on Greater Manchester’s hospitals, the latest data on how the NHS is currently coping shows.

Statistics analysed by our sister title NationalWorld shows a mixed picture in the health service for the week up to Boxing Day.

The number of staff having to stay off work because they are ill or self-isolating has continued to rise in Greater Manchester, and at some hospitals in the city-region the critical care bed occupancy rate has also risen.

But the number of ambulances facing long waits to hand over patients to medical teams has gone down.

What does the data show about staff absences?

At Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust, the weekly average number of employees absent from their jobs due to being ill or self-isolating in the week ending Boxing Day was 859.

This is a significant increase from the average of 453 recorded in the previous week, up to 19 December.

The Christie NHS Foundation Trust had an average of 133 people in the week up to 26 December compared to 73 the previous week.

Bolton NHS Foundation Trust saw an increase to 170 from 111 over the two weeks.

Covid-related absences at Tameside and Glossop Integrated Care NHS Foundation Trust went up from an average of 60 in the week up to 19 December to 101 the following week.

And at Stockport NHS Foundation Trust there was an average of 140 absences due to Covid in the week up to Boxing Day, compared to 98 in the previous week.

What does the data say about critical care beds being occupied?

There is a distinctly mixed picture when it comes to the occupancy rates of critical care beds across Greater Manchester.

Two hospitals in Greater Manchester saw a week-on-week rise in the percentage of beds occupied in the week up to Boxing Day compared to the previous one.

There was an increase of 7.94% at Bolton NHS Foundation Trust and one of 0.5% at Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust.

The city-region’s other hospitals, on the other hand, followed the broader England-wide trend which saw pressure on critical care units easing slightly in the week ending 26 December compared to the one ending 19 December.

The most striking week-on-week reduction was the one of 22.45% at Stockport NHS Foundation Trust.

Overall levels of critical care bed occupancy also vary considerably across Greater Manchester’s hospitals, from just over half being full at Stockport NHS Foundation Trust to 79.13% occupancy at Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust.

What does the data show on ambulance delays?

Overall there were declines in the number of long waits for patients to be transferred from paramedics to hospital staff when arriving in ambulances across Greater Manchester in the latest week of data.

At Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust, 14.42% of patients had to wait more than half an hour, compared to one in five the previous week.

At Bolton NHS Foundation Trust almost a quarter of patients had to wait more than half an hour in the week ending 19 December, but this dropped to 17.54% for the week ending on Boxing Day.

Stockport’s hospital trust also saw a significant decline in delays, from 20.7% to 8.19%.

Some individual patients, though, have continued to experience long delays in being handed over from paramedics to the medical teams in hospitals.

At Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust, for example, 61 patients had to wait more than an hour in the week ending 26 December.