How many hospital staff were off across Lancashire in the week leading up to Christmas 2022 as national absences rise
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What was the national picture?
In the seven days to Christmas (December 25), an average of 63,296 workers were off sick each day across NHS acute hospitals, according to the latest health figures published by NHS England. This is a 4% increase on the previous week’s figures, when 60,583 were off sick.
Although the figures do not state the reason for staff sickness, Covid-19 accounted for 13% of all absences in the week to 25 December. On average 8,029 workers were off each day because of coronavirus.
Regionally, the Midlands had the greatest number of staff off sick with more than 13,000, followed by North East and Yorkshire and the North West with 12,000. The East of England had the lowest daily average of absences with 5,000, followed by the South West with 6,000.
What was the situation in Lancashire?
For Lancashire Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, which includes Royal Preston Hospital and Chorley and South Ribble Hospital, the average daily number of staff absences between December 19 and 25 was 688. This was 40 more than the week prior, when 648 were off between December 12 and 18.
For East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Trust, which includes Royal Blackburn Teaching Hospital, Burnley General Teaching Hospital, Clitheroe Community hospital and Pendle Community Hospital, the average daily number of staff absences between December 19 and 25 was 694, up from 665 the week prior.
What significance do these absences have?
The analysis comes as the NHS faces intense pressure “equivalent” to the Covid pandemic, according to a health official. Saffron Cordery, interim chief executive of NHS Providers, credited staff shortages, lack of investment, a worn-out workforce and a backlog of operations as all contributing to the pressure, as well as Covid and flu cases. The government has been urged to declare a national major incident.
This winter has seen flu cases surge across the country. In December, the number of patients in hospital with flu in England “skyrocketed” with admissions overtaking those for Covid earlier in the month.