600 Mid Yorkshire Hospitals staff off work because of coronavirus

Around 600 local hospital staff at an NHS trust remain off work because of coronavirus.

Monday, 18th May 2020, 9:31 am
Updated Monday, 18th May 2020, 9:32 am
NHS trusts across the country are trying to cope with high staff absence because of the virus.

The Mid Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust, which runs Pinderfields, Pontefract and Dewsbury Hospitals, said the number accounted for around seven per cent of its workforce.

The figure includes staff staying at home because of a family member, as well as those who have had or are recovering from COVID-19 themselves.

The trust's chief executive, Martin Barkley, said on Friday that the impact on patient care had been mitigated by coronavirus cases not reaching the peak that was expected. Falling activity in other hospital departments has also been a factor.

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Around seven per cent of Mid Yorkshire's workforce is currently absent because of COVID-19.

Mr Barkley also paid tribute to all NHS staff who have worked through the pandemic, adding that some had voluntarily come into work on days off to help tackle "unique" problems that had been thrown up by the crisis.

Last month, the virus claimed the life of consultant physician Dr Nasir Khan, who worked at Dewsbury and District and Pinderfields Hospitals.

Mr Barkley said: "Some of those who are off are at home, shielded because of family members, or households who have it.

"In many ways however, it's not had the impact that might have been expected because we've had to completely change the way our hospitals operate.

NHS trust chief Martin Barkley paid tribute to staff's "amazing and humbling" commitment.

"The dedication, commitment and sacrifices of so many staff have been amazing and humbling.

"They've certainly gone above and beyond."

The NHS' response to the pandemic has been hindered by severe problems getting personal protective equipment (PPE) to frontline staff.

Mr Barkley said supplies of PPE were now at their steadiest for several weeks.

Mr Barkley said the trust now had a stable supply of gowns, but that more would be needed in the long-term.

Hospitals are now being told to carry out more operations, many of which have had to be postponed during the outbreak. But that will require more of the very specific types of PPE that medics need during surgery.

Mr Barkley said: "In overall terms on PPE, we are in the best position we've been in for four or five weeks.

"With the help of two local manufacturers, we've had a sustainable supply chain of re-usable long-sleeved gowns, which can be washed and used up to 75 times.

"But when you look at the volumes that will be needed as we undertake more non-COVID activity, they will change very quickly.

"May and June for us will be about making sure we'll always have enough PPE for emergency surgery and then we need to work out what we can use for elective (non-emergency) surgery.

"The supply chains are immensely complicated at the moment."

Local Democracy Reporting Service