Covid a key factor to hospital staff absences, report finds

Hospital staff during the Covid-19 pandemic

A report found the main reasons why staff at two of Cambridgeshire's hospitals were absent in January were Covd-19 or mental health related. - Credit: Peter Byrne/PA

Staff at two of Cambridgeshire’s hospitals were off sick in January mainly through Covid-19 or mental health related, according to a report. 

The report was presented at a meeting of Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust’s board of directors meeting on March 9. 

Staff off due to potential coronavirus related sickness, including chest and respiratory problems, influenza related sickness and infectious diseases, was the highest reason reported.  

Absence due to anxiety, stress, depression and other mental health illness was the second highest reason.  

Roland Sinker, the chief executive of the Trust, said that due to the rising staff absences due to sickness and isolation, mandatory training had been suspended, but that this was lifted on March 2.  

He also said the service was now moving out of the third wave, but that the Trust would remain cautious.  

However, it was highlighted that in the last week the trend of decline in positive cases had changed.  

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Dr Ewen Cameron, interim chief operating officer at the Trust, said that if the board meeting had taken place last week, he would have been able to present a more “optimistic view”.  

He said positive tests and cases of staff needing to self-isolate had been falling, but that the last seven days had seen a change in this.  

Dr Cameron added that what worried him most about this was that this was a change that was also being reported across the country.  

In relation to staff mental health, it was explained at the meeting that improved support for staff wellbeing was being worked on and put in place.  

In his chief executive’s report, Mr Sinker highlighted that a multi-professional specialist team, called the ZIP Team, began work in February to offer help to staff.  

He said the aim of the group is to be a single source of “rapid expert support and guidance”, and said it will also take what it learns to inform prevention work.