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Northern Health Trust board told of ‘high level’ of Covid-related staff absences

A “high level” of absence remains among Northern Trust staff due to Covid infection and self-isolation, Trust board members heard at a meeting on Thursday morning.

In a presentation, Neil Martin, interim divisional director of Strategic Development, told the board of a “general spread” of Covid across Northern Ireland with some prevalence in the North Coast and Antrim areas.

He reported that there are between 50 and 60 Covid in-patients at Antrim Hospital. He noted a “peak” four weeks ago which he said has since “levelled”.

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At Causeway Hospital, in Coleraine, he reported an average of 15 Covid patients since last summer.

Antrim Hospital

He went on to say that although there was “not a significant surge like with Delta”, there is “still a significant number in our hospitals”.

“I do not know if the trajectory will flow like it did last year, that still remains to be seen.”

He indicated that there are between 300 and 400 Covid patients in hospitals across Northern Ireland.

“There is still plenty of Covid in hospitals. It is not over by any means but not generally the same level of illness.”

The Northern Trust’s last recorded figures on March 16 show that of the 12,163 staff employed by the Trust, 639 were absent due to Covid symptoms, 212 were self-isolating or shielding and 888 were absent due to non-Covid illness.

Jacqui Reid, interim director of Human Resources, told the meeting that the top reason for non-Covid related absence is work-related stress which she said is “much higher” than it was previously with staff suffering from stress, anxiety and feeling “overwhelmed”.

She went on to say that 83 per cent of staff have received their first Covid vaccination, 82 per cent, the second and 44 per cent, booster dose.

However, she pointed out that this does not include figures for others who may have been vaccinated at venues such as GP surgeries.

Michelle Weir, Local Democracy Reporter

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