Weston General Hospital declares 'internal critical incident' as staff sickness rises

Weston General Hospital main entrance

Weston General Hospital has declared an 'internal critical incident' - Credit: Weston Area Health NHS Trust

Weston General Hospital is among many across the country to have declared an internal critical incident - as admissions continue to rise amid the surging omicron variant of Covid-19.

The Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire health and care system - the Healthier Together Partnership – said it had engaged the status over the new year bank holiday in order to open extra beds and request additional staffing.

It comes as the number of Covid-19 patients in hospital across the UK rose to 17,276 on Tuesday (January 4) - up from 11,980 a week before (December 29), according to government figures.

A spokesperson for the partnership, which oversees Weston General, said a rise in patients, combined with rising numbers of staff off sick with Covid-19, or self-isolating, lead to the declaration.  

"Our whole health and care system is extremely busy and remains in its highest state of alert," they said. 

"Both acute trusts in our area declared internal critical incidents across the New Year bank holiday weekend. This meant they were able to open up extra beds and ward space, as well as request additional staff. 

"Like other areas of the country, many staff across health and care are either unwell with Covid-19 or isolating. This means our sickness rates are higher than normal."

Most Read

They said people could do their bit to protect themselves, as well as the NHS, by getting their vaccination - be it their first, second, third or booster dose.

"The most important thing the public can do to protect themselves and support local services is to get their first, second or booster Covid-19 vaccines doses," the spokesperson added. 

"For a full list of Covid-19 vaccine sites, visit www.grabajab.net." 

NHS national medical director, Professor Stephen Powis, said the NHS is on a 'war footing'.

"We don’t yet know the full scale of rising omicron cases and how this will affect people needing NHS treatment, but having hit a 10-month high for the number of patients in hospital with Covid while wrestling with sharply increasing staff absences, we are doing everything possible to free up beds and get people home to their loved ones – and in the last week hundreds more beds were freed up each day compared to the week before," he said.

"On top of the incredible efforts made by staff to get people out of hospital safely, we are also making every possible preparation for the uncertain challenges of omicron, including setting up new Nightingale surge hubs at hospitals across the country and recruiting thousands of nurses and reservists.

"The NHS is on a war footing, and while staff remain braced for the worst, with covid absence for NHS staff almost doubling in the past fortnight, keeping as many colleagues as possible at work on the frontline and minimising absence, will be essential in the next few weeks. 

"As staff throw everything at preparing for this next wave, the public can play their part in protecting themselves by getting the first, second and booster jabs, as tens of millions of others already have."

Across the NHS, the total number of days lost due to covid staff absence increased by 42% in the week ending December 26 compared to the week before (up from 124,855 to 176,914), while there has been a 96% increase over the last two weeks, meaning Covid-related staff absences have nearly doubled over the last two weeks.

Overall, staff absences increased by 9.2% per day on average from 65,305 to 70,762.

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter