HAMPSHIRE Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (HHFT) are experiencing an ‘increase’ in Covid related staff absences.

Several hospital trusts have declared critical incidents amid staff shortages and rising pressures due to Covid-19 in past last week as the virus continues to remain a threat to our communities.

HHFT, which is responsible for three hospitals in Basingstoke, Andover and Winchester last week saw the highest number of staff absent due to Covid.

They have said that they are monitoring the position they are in and are lucky that they are not seeing the same levels as other care providers who have been hit harder.

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Critical incidents are normally declared when health bosses are concerned that they cannot provide priority services.

A spokesperson from Hampshire Hospitals, said: “While we are fortunate that our overall staff sickness has not yet risen to the levels seen in some other providers, we are experiencing a marked increase in COVID-related absence, which we are monitoring closely. Today, we have seen the highest number of staff absent for some time due to COVID-related reasons, including self-isolation. We continue to provide support to staff through our advanced regime of twice weekly staff testing, our staff vaccination programme, our inhouse track and trace team, and an extensive staff wellbeing offer. Our teams continue to work tirelessly, in challenging circumstances, to provide outstanding care for patients.

“As cases in the community continue to climb rapidly it is more important than ever for everyone to get vaccinated. To assist we are continuing to run walk-in clinics at our Basingstoke hospital vaccination hub until this Friday 7th January 2022 (from 10:00 till 16:00 daily).”

On Tuesday, January 4 a total of 6.59 per cent of staff where absent due to Covid, compared to 5.54 per cent the week before (December 28).

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Speaking in a Downing Street press conference, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the NHS was facing "huge pressures".

He said that some services would continue to be disrupted due to staff absences, but he pledged to "fortify" the health service to’ withstand’ pressures and protect supply chains.

Sir Chris Whitty, chief medical officer also accepted that some hospitals would come under ‘substantial pressure’ of the next few weeks.

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