Avon and Somerset Police say staff absence ‘thankfully low’ despite covid pressure

Staff absence rates remain “relatively low” at Avon and Somerset Police despite the spread of the Omicron covid variant, the force has said.

The news comes as several trusts across the country have declared critical incidents since 2022 began – including the two in Bristol – amid mounting staff absences caused by covid.

The two trusts in the city declared the critical incidents across the New Year bank holiday weekend to open up extra beds and ward space, as well as requesting additional staff.

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A total of 905 people were absent from work through sickness or self-isolation across the two trusts in the city, according to the NHS data available from December 26, with covid-related absences accounting for just over a third (317).

Avon and Somerset Police has said that members of the public can be reassured the force’s ability to provide services are not currently significantly impacted by the virus, despite the impact on colleagues in other 999 services.

A spokesperson said: “The health and welfare of our all our employees is paramount.

“Measures remain in place to manage the spread of COVID-19 at all our offices and stations and where possible, staff continue to work remotely.

“Officers and staff working on the frontline also continue to wear personal protective equipment to ensure both their own and the public’s safety.

“We have kept a very close watch on absence rates within our organisation throughout the pandemic and thankfully they remain relatively low.

“Members of the public can be reassured our ability to provide the services they expect of us are not currently significantly impacted by the virus.”

University Hospitals Bristol and Weston NHS Foundation Trust – whose hospitals include the Bristol Royal Infirmary, the Bristol Royal Hospital for Children and Weston General Hospital, among others – had 479 people absent from work on December 26.

North Bristol NHS Trust – which covers Southmead Hospital and Cossham Hospital, among others – had 426 staff absent from work through sickness or self-isolation on that day.

A spokesperson for the Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire health and care system – the Healthier Together Partnership – said last week that the whole health and care system is extremely busy and remains in its highest state of alert.

He said: “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. For a full list of Covid-19 vaccine sites, visit www.grabajab.net.”

The spokesperson gave a list of other ways the public can help the NHS, including only ever call 999 in the event of a serious or life-threatening emergency.

It said people should call or click 111 if they need urgent medical help and aren’t sure what to do, adding their expanded 111 team will get them to the most appropriate place.

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