In her report to the board at a meeting on Thursday morning, Jacqui Reid, the Trust’s human resources director, told members: “Covid absence is well up on where we were last year, particularly following the jubilee weekend, there has been an increase in cases.”
She also reported that currently, there are 64 staff members who have been absent with Covid-related illness for more than 84 days.
She noted that long-term sickness overall is decreasing, saying that stress is the most common reason for staff absence.
In a performance report Neil Martin, the Trust’s interim divisional director of strategic development and business services, said that there has been a “steady decline” in the number of Covid in-patients at Antrim Hospital since late winter with a “similar pattern” at Causeway Hospital in Coleraine.
However, he reported a “slight increase” at Antrim Hospital ” a couple of weeks ago”.
“On a regional basis, that is a very similar position – a decline stabilising early June has been climbing steadily since then. With regard to ICU Covid patients, there are relatively few patients sick enough with Covid to end up in ICU,” he continued.
He went on to say that there are more than 200 Covid in-patients across Northern Ireland, compared to this time last year, when he said there were “almost none”.
There are currently five Covid in-patients in ICU in the province’s hospitals.
Wendy Magowan, the Trust’s director of operations, stated that patients coming into hospital are still being swabbed and it is “a mix of respiratory and older patients” who are in hospital.
“We have seen that rise over the last number of weeks,” she remarked.
She acknowledged difficulty for the public when they are still required to wear face coverings in a health care setting when there are “very few” people wearing masks elsewhere.
“It is confusing for the public to not appreciate how socially things are quite normal but for us nothing has changed.”
Michelle Weir, Local Democracy Reporter