January 4, 2022 10.10 am This story is over 22 months old

Over 600 Lincolnshire hospital staff off sick with COVID every day in Christmas run-up

ULHT was one of several NHS trusts to declare a critical incident

NHS trusts are calling for people to stay away from hospitals unless a genuine accident or emergency has occurred, following the declaring of a critical incident within Lincolnshire’s health sector.

United Lincolnshire Hospitals NHS Trust declared a critical incident after ‘extreme’ staff shortages, but the public were only made aware following a document leak from The Sunday Times on Sunday, January 2.

The document was sent to staff at hospitals in Lincoln, Grantham, Boston and Louth, stating that the trust was “unable to maintain safe staffing levels.”

Helen Monday, a nurse at ULHT, told BBC Radio Lincolnshire that staff are “absolutely exhausted” and on the verge of burn out after a hectic and difficult Christmas period.

It was revealed that in the week leading up to Christmas, there were over 600 Lincolnshire hospital staff off sick with COVID-19 every day, which prompted the critical incident as it was “compromising care” for patients.

Lincolnshire MPs Matt Warman and Karl McCartney confirmed that they were made aware of the staff crisis before the New Year, despite the public only finding out on January 2 via a leak from the media.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said that he “appreciates the pressure our hospitals are under”, after it was revealed that at least six hospital trusts across England declared critical incidents in recent days and weeks.

Mr Johnson added: “It is vital that we help them by maintaining the virus in the ways that I have set out.”

ULHT Medical Director Dr Colin Farquharson told The Lincolnite: “As a result of significant staffing pressures due to absence related to COVID-19, we are having to take additional steps to maintain services.

“Our staff continue to work exceptionally hard and we would like to reassure our patients and the public that in spite of the challenges faced, essential services remain fully open for anyone who needs them, so people should continue to come forward for care.

“People can help us to help them by getting their COVID booster vaccine to protect themselves and their families and reduce pressure on health services.”

The leaked document shared by The Sunday Times.

The two-page letter to staff has been shared by The Sunday Times.