ALMOST 900 staff at York and Scarborough Hospitals Trust are off work as the impact of the Covid pandemic continues to be felt across the NHS, The Press can reveal.

Of the 881 staff off work on January 11, when the latest figures were produced, almost a third (289) were absent because of Covid – either because they were ill, or because they were self-isolating.

The absences mean that almost one in 10 staff employed by the trust were off work on January 11.

Worryingly, the trust – which runs major hospitals in York and Scarborough, plus smaller units in Malton, Selby, Easingwold and elsewhere – admits that it does "not expect the position to improve in the short term given the high community prevalence of Omicron".

The absences come as the the number of patients with Covid remains high.

York Press:

The latest figures show that York and Scarborough hospitals are now treating 148 patients with Covid - one of the highest figures of the current Omicron wave - with four of them in intensive care. “There are currently three Covid wards at York Hospital and a further two wards at Scarborough Hospital,” a spokesperson for the trust said.

The spokesperson confirmed that some routine scheduled operations and other procedures had had to be postponed.

“However, we are continuing to prioritise emergency, urgent and cancer patients so that we manage those patients with the greatest clinical need,” the spokesperson said.

‘Robust’ plans were in place to ensure that the hospital would be able to continue to treat patients safely and effectively if absences increased further, the spokesperson added.

“As staff sickness and absence increases we will postpone or delay non-urgent treatments and services in order to release additional beds, and to ensure we can redeploy staff.”

York Press: Nurse Elaine Hunter putting on PPE before entering a Covid restricted area at York Hospital's intensive care unit

The trust says that at least 94 per cent of all staff are now fully vaccinated against Covid.

It is still uncertain how many of the remaining six per cent remain unvaccinated, however.

“As a large employer, the percentage of vaccinated staff at any one time can change as we constantly have new starters, leavers and new doctor rotations,” the spokesperson said.

“Work is currently ongoing to validate the remaining percentage to understand if they have been vaccinated elsewhere or are clinically exempt. We have made it as simple and convenient as possible for staff to receive the vaccine (and) continue to urge all staff to get vaccinated as part of their professional responsibility to our patients.”

Government regulations which come into force from April 1 will require NHS staff to be vaccinated. “This means that unvaccinated individuals will need to have had their first dose by February 3, in order to have received their second dose by the April 1 deadline,” the spokesperson said.

The regulations apply to all frontline health workers, and to non-clinical workers who may have direct, face to-face contact with patients - staff such as receptionists, ward clerks, porters and cleaners.

“We have written to all staff to explain that if they choose not to be vaccinated it may have implications for their employment,” the spokesperson said.

Meanwhile, senior hospital staff have been leading by example.

Consultant surgeon Srinivas Chintapatla, who is the director of the trust’s cancer and support services, said: “I am triple vaccinated against Covid-19, as are my family. I support vaccination as it is safer for me and my loved ones, protects our patients, protects staff and protects hospital services.”