Large increase in Covid-related staff absences at Bucks hospitals, while ambulance waiting times improve

The amount of hospital staff missing due to Covid, almost doubled in a week

By James Lowson
Thursday, 23rd December 2021, 2:30 pm

New figures show a large increase in Covid-linked absences at hospitals within Aylesbury's NHS area.

Data covering the week ending December 19, shows that there was a 45% increase in staff who missed time at Bucks hospitals because of Covid.

NHS Digital statistics show 98 people working at hospitals within the Buckinghamshire NHS Trust reported absent.

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Stoke Mandeville Hospital

The week before, 67 people missed shifts, citing sickness or self-isolation as the reason they needed to stay away from their place of work.

Overall, 490 staff members were absent at Bucks facilities last week, a rise of 8% from the week before.

Covid case rates increased rapidly in Aylesbury Vale and across the UK last week, as the more transmissible Omicron variant of Covid spread.

The infection rate remains high both locally and nationally, over 300 new Covid cases were uncovered in the latest government update.

A decrease in the amount of patients facing long waits for ambulances was revealed in the new data, 9% fewer people in need had to wait over half an hour for emergency support.

Last week's data which focused on the week ending December 12 showed 20% of ambulances took over 30 minutes to deliver patients to hospital staff, this week that number fell to 11%.

That 11% represents 31 patients who spent 30 minutes with paramedics before being treated by hospital staff and 21 people who had to wait for over an hour.

Recent data showed the South Central Ambulance average response time had swelled to nearly one hour.

The ambulance service which covers Aylesbury had reached an average wait time of 53:49 minutes, nearly triple the 18-minute target set for emergency responders.

No ambulances sent to a hospital in Bucks had to divert to another facility in the most recently analysed week.

As of last Friday (December 19), 61.9% of beds on critical care wards in Bucks hospitals were in use, this represents a 4% increase from the week before.

NHS Digital data doesn't state what proportion of those cases are related to Covid.

Nationally, the number of staff unavailable due to Covid increased by 38%, accounting for 124,855 hospital workers in England.

NHS national medical director Professor Stephen Powis said: “The NHS is on a war footing and staff are taking the fight to omicron, by boosting hundreds of thousands of people each day, treating thousands of seriously ill covid patients and delivering urgent care for other conditions, all while seeing a worrying, high and rising increase in absence due to covid.

“We are once again ramping up to deal with the rise in covid infections, and quite rightly staff are making every possible preparation for the uncertain challenges of omicron, including recruiting thousands of nurses and reservists, but while we’ll leave no stone unturned to get the NHS battle ready, it remains the case that the best way to protect yourself and others is to follow guidance and to come forward and get your first, second and booster jabs.”