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Number of health workers self-isolating still not available for Northern Ireland

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Dr Cathy Jack

Dr Cathy Jack

Dr Cathy Jack

The health authorities in Northern Ireland are unable to disclose the total number of staff forced to self-isolate due to the coronavirus crisis.

The development comes as it was revealed the Belfast Trust - our largest - is down 10% of its workforce due to Covid-19 precautions.

However, the Health and Social Care Board (HSCB) said it could not as yet provide the overall figure of employees self-isolating as the data is not ready.

Belfast Trust Chief Executive Dr Cathy Jack (right) yesterday told the Stormont Health Committee that, as of Wednesday, just under 2,000 staff members were absent.

"I have 1,200 staff that are self-isolating because of a family member that has been symptomatic, and I have 791 staff that are self-isolating because they are symptomatic - so that's just under 2,000 staff and that's nearly 10% of my workforce," she said.

Dr Jack said the trust wants to be able to test the 1,200 staff who feel well to allow them to come back to work if they do not test positive for Covid-19.

"So clearly, if you were symptomatic with a high fever, you wouldn't want those staff at work anyway... we are really looking at how we can test the 1,200 that actually feel well but have a family member or close contact that are displaying symptoms."

Meanwhile, across the UK around one in four health service doctors are off work sick or in isolation, according to the Royal College of Physicians.

The Belfast Telegraph has made repeated requests to the HSCB in recent days for the total figure of health workers affected in Northern Ireland, but to no avail.

A spokesperson for the HSCB said it was working towards publishing the information in due course.

"We are currently working closely with HSC trusts and the Department of Health to collate data regarding staff absenteeism and how best to publish this information on a regular basis," they said.

"Unfortunately the data will not be available this week."

Belfast Telegraph