Numbers show that only one in 40 NHS frontline workers couldn’t work late last month due to Covid

Official figures show that only one in 40 NHS hospital workers was unavailable due to Covid late last month.

Recent media reports have been saturated with warnings that hospital care could collapse because so many employees are either infected with the virus or need to self-isolate as a result.

NHS England Medical Director Professor Stephen Powis spoke last week about the health service being on a “war basis,” a phrase that has been repeated by broadcasters since then.

But while official figures show that the number with Covid doubled in the run-up to Christmas, the virus only prevented a small portion of hospital staff from working.

On December 1, 12,508 employees in English hospitals were absent due to Covid-19 “either through illness or self-isolation,” according to data from the NHS England.

While official figures show that the number with Covid doubled in the run-up to Christmas, the virus has only kept a small fraction of hospital staff from working (Pictured: NHS health workers watch people wait for a dose of the Covid to receive -19 vaccine at a pop-up coronavirus vaccination center in Redbridge Town Hall, East London on December 25, 2021)

While official figures show that the number with Covid doubled in the run-up to Christmas, the virus has only kept a small fraction of hospital staff from working (Pictured: NHS health workers watch people wait for a dose of the Covid to receive -19 vaccine at a pop-up coronavirus vaccination center in Redbridge Town Hall, East London on December 25, 2021)

By Boxing Day, the last day for which figures are available, this had almost doubled to 24,632.

But with 983,000 working in NHS hospitals in England, according to official staff statistics for 2021, only 2.5 percent of the workforce – or one in 40 – were absent due to Covid by the end of the month.

Meanwhile, illness-related absenteeism outside of Covid fell from 47,628 on December 1 to 43,450 on Boxing Day over the same period.

As a result, total NHS hospital staff sickness absenteeism increased only 13 percent in December – from 60,136 on the first of the month to 68,082 on December 26th.

According to this, around 93 percent of hospital staff were still professionally fit and healthy at Christmas.

However, the picture differs between the UK’s 138 NHS hospital trusts.

Around 93 percent of hospital staff were still fit and healthy from a professional point of view at Christmas (in the picture: NHS employee administered Covid vaccination on Christmas Day)

Around 93 percent of hospital staff were still fit and healthy from a professional point of view at Christmas (in the picture: NHS employee administered Covid vaccination on Christmas Day)

Five reported that on Boxing Day, a total of more than ten percent were absent due to illness or self-isolation – Sheffield Teaching Hospitals (12.2 percent), Nottingham University Hospitals (12 percent), Wirral University Teaching Hospitals (10.9 percent), Warrington and Halton Hospitals (10.8 percent) and Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust (10.1 percent).

All had above-average absences related to Covid.

Looking at Covid-related absences alone, three had rates of over five percent on Boxing Day – Homerton University Hospital in London (7.1 percent), Royal United Hospitals Bath (6.9 percent) and Sheffield Teaching Hospitals (6.7 percent).

But nine reported Covid-related absences of less than one percent of their workforce on December 26.

Leave a Comment