More than 10,000 working days lost due to Covid-19 at Buckinghamshire Healthcare

Coronavirus caused staff at Buckinghamshire Healthcare to miss more than 10,000 days of work last year, figures reveal.

Wednesday, 5th May 2021, 9:23 am
Updated Wednesday, 5th May 2021, 9:26 am
Coronavirus caused staff at Buckinghamshire Healthcare to miss more than 10,000 days of work last year, figures reveal.

The British Medical Association say the figures – which show millions of days were lost nationally – demonstrate how the pandemic has affected a health service that was "woefully" short on staff before it even began.

NHS Digital data shows the equivalent of 74,908 full-time staff days were lost due to sickness at Buckinghamshire Healthcare NHS Trust between March and December.

Around one in six of these (12,845) were because of Covid-19, with staff worst affected towards the beginning of the pandemic.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

Buckinghamshire Healthcare staff were absent for 3,755 days because of coronavirus in April, but were least impacted in October – losing 363 days.

Around 2.5 million days were lost in the NHS across England due to the virus, giving an overall sickness absence rate of 4.7% between March and December.

Dr David Wrigley, deputy chairman of the BMA, said: “We know the NHS went into the pandemic woefully short on staff and these worrying figures highlight how Covid-19 has made a severe workforce shortage even more desperate.

“Covid-related staff absences coupled with the significant negative impact on NHS staff mental health and wellbeing during the last year have meant more staff needing to take time off work, threatening the NHS’s very ability to provide essential services."

According to the figures, more than half a million days were lost across England due to stress, anxiety, depression, or other psychiatric illnesses in December – the highest of any month since the pandemic started.

Dr Wrigley said the wellbeing of "exhausted" NHS staff is paramount as they face the biggest backlog of care in history, or else he fears many will reduce their hours, retire early or leave the health service entirely.

NHS Providers, the membership organisation for trusts in England, said coronavirus and the usual winter pressure had a huge impact on staff, with hospitals still having to deal with the knock-on effects.

Deputy chief executive Saffron Cordery said the "remarkable" work of the NHS during this challenging period must not be taken for granted, and called for long-term support.

She added: “We urge the Government to ensure the NHS has the right levels of staff to build flexibility into the system by providing a fully costed and funded national workforce plan.

"This will help to relieve the pressure on staff, making it easier to cover sickness absences, while ensuring a manageable workload and a better work-life balance."

The NHS figures also show that support staff to doctors, nurses and midwives at Buckinghamshire Healthcare were absent most often.

Between March and December, they were sick on a combined 29,298 days – 39% of all staff absences.

The Department of Health and Social Care said it is investing £89 billion to support the "record number" of NHS staff working in England, and to help address patient backlogs.

A spokesman added: “We recognise the enormous pressure this pandemic has put on our heroic NHS and social care staff and we are funding dedicated mental health support, including a 24/7 helpline, to provide help to those who need it."