NHS staffing on Teesside 'tight but manageable' as Covid pressures continue to bite

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Staffing strains are being felt on Teesside as NHS staff absences rise, whilst demand continues to increase.

The University Hospital of North Tees A&E department was very busy at the weekend.

North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Trust sent a call out to trained clinical staff working in non-clinical roles to help out over the weekend due to high demand.

Leaders held a meeting in response to the pressures on Tuesday 4 January.

Following discussions, a trust spokesperson said staffing was "tight but manageable" for the time being.

Restricted visiting to the trust's sites was announced on New Year's Day and will remain under daily review, officials added.

However, staff absences remain high. 

The trust was treating 80 patients with Covid-19 on Tuesday - two of whom are in the North Tees intensive care unit. 

This is up from 22 patients with covid on Christmas Eve. 

Trust officials say most of the patients being treated are unvaccinated. 

South Tees Hospitals have also seen a rise in the number of covid patients on wards over the festive period and into the new year.

Christmas Eve saw 48 patients with covid being treated on wards - of whom five were in critical care.

The numbers of Covid patients in intensive care have remained largely unchanged with six people now being treated on Tuesday.

However, trust officials say 106 patients are now receiving hospital covid care - more than double the figure less than two weeks ago. 

A South Tees trust spokesman said: "The increase in community infections has inevitably impacted on our colleagues as well as the wider public and everyone is working hard to make sure patients - including those whose care has been disrupted by the pandemic - continue to receive the care they need.

"All our services are operating as normal thanks to the fantastic work of countless colleagues but they can't do this alone."

Figures from the latest South Tees board meeting showed staff sickness absence rates at the trust had hit their highest level for two-and-half years in October. 

Teesside councils are feeling the strain but front-line services haven't been hit yet by staffing absences. 

A Stockton Council spokesman said: "We are experiencing some staffing pressures but there's no disruption to services to report. 

"We are monitoring the situation very closely and we will of course let people know if there are any changes to services."

Middlesbrough Council and Redcar and Cleveland Council have been contacted for comment on their staffing situations.