Around 1,000 staff absent from hospitals as Bristol's NHS comes under 'intense' pressure

By Ben Bloch

Around 1,000 NHS staff in Bristol hospitals have been absent this week as Bristol's NHS comes under "intense" pressure.

The most recent data says that 473 hospital staff were absent due to Covid-19, with a further 527 staff absent for other reasons.

This comes as the Bristol, North Somerset, and South Gloucestershire Clinical Commissioning Group (BNSSG CCG) confirms that it remains at its highest state of alert, meaning "there is increased potential for patient care and safety to be compromised".

READ MORE: Six new Covid deaths in Bristol as city reaches grim milestone

As the wave of Omicron continues its sweep across the country, NHS staff absences have reached extremely high levels, and Bristol has felt the effect of that over recent weeks.

On January 9, 2022 (the most recent day for which data is available), there were 523 staff absent from the University Hospitals and Weston NHS Foundation Trust and 477 absent from the North Bristol NHS Trust.

Staff absences in the Bristol region peaked only four days earlier (January 5) with 1,441 NHS staff absent, showing that although there has been a reduction in absences, the services remain under immense pressure.

More new data from the NHS, analysed by the PA news agency, also shows that University Hospitals Bristol & Weston saw the fourth-highest number of delays of at least 30 minutes last week in transferring patients from ambulances to hospitals, with 441 patients waiting more than half an hour.

University Hospitals Bristol & Weston also had the third-highest number of delays of more than an hour, with 287 patients waiting in ambulances to be taken into hospital.

Earlier today, the BNSSG Clinical Commissioning Group (the body that oversees all NHS trusts in our area) confirmed that the service remains at its highest state of alert - Opel 4.

This means that, due to pressures on the services, hospitals are "unable to deliver comprehensive care", meaning that "there is increased potential for patient care and safety to be compromised", however, NHS bosses have taken a series of measures to ensure the quality of care.

In a statement on January 7, the CCG announced that some non-urgent appointments and procedures are being postponed, as are some community visits. They have also suspended visiting in adult wards, save for exceptional circumstances, such as compassionate cases, and some staff have been moved in order to support "core services".

Bristol's Nightingale 'surge hub' is also being built outside Southmead Hospital over the next few days to provide extra capacity, although bosses have reiterated their hope that it is never used.

Peter Brindle, Medical Director at Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), said:

“With Covid rates very high, we’re seeing sharp increase in staff sickness and people needing hospital care. This means we’re extremely busy and taking additional steps to limit the spread of infection, keep people safe, and make sure we can provide the treatment that people need.

“We are urging everyone to get boosted now, use services wisely and support friends and family in hospital to be discharged promptly.

Staff across health and social care are going to incredible lengths in the most challenging circumstances right now – we are asking the public to continue to treat them with kindness and respect.”

The CCG has asked that Bristolians do the following:

  • Protect yourself – get vaccinated against Covid-19 and flu. You can find all the details you need at grabajab.net
  • Click or call 111 first for all urgent but non-life-threatening injuries or illnesses, rather than visiting busy emergency departments and minor injuries units. You can also call your GP in the day.
  • Use your local pharmacy – they can offer clinical advice and over-the-counter medicines for a range of minor illnesses, such as coughs, colds, sore throats, tummy trouble and aches and pains. Pharmacies are open throughout the day, evening and on weekends and you can be seen without an appointment.
  • Help look out for your community – check in on relatives and neighbours who might need extra support and be ready to collect loved ones from hospital as soon as they are medically well enough to leave. We all appreciate how families and friends are providing additional care for each other at this difficult time; and are thankful for the flexibility being shown in times services are received.
  • Check the latest guidance on visiting loved ones at the health setting you are attending before you set off – increasing rates of Omicron mean that some settings have had to change their arrangements.

Get the best stories about the things you love most curated by us and delivered to your inbox every day. Choose what you love here


What is inkl?

Important stories

See news based on value, not advertising potential. Get the latest news from around the world.

Trusted newsrooms

We bring you reliable news from the world’s most experienced journalists in the most trusted newsrooms.

Ad-free reading

Read without interruptions, distractions or intrusions of privacy.