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Majority of NI health staff off sick with Covid jabbed and boosted, chief says

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Nurse writing down data on patient in recovery room of hospital. Photo: Kzenon

Nurse writing down data on patient in recovery room of hospital. Photo: Kzenon

Nurse writing down data on patient in recovery room of hospital. Photo: Kzenon

The vast majority of staff in one Northern Ireland health trust who are on sick leave with Covid have had both their vaccinations and a booster dose, a chief executive has said.

Speaking to the BBC Radio Ulster's Nolan radio programme, Chief Executive of the Northern Trust Dr Seamus O'Reilly said 1200 members of staff are currently absent from work, equating to 10% of all staff.

"I'm aware that the vast majority that I've been made aware of recently have been fully vaccinated and most of them have had their booster dose as well," he said.

As the New Year approaches, Dr O'Reilly said the trust is preparing for up to 30% of staff to be off sick as a "worst-case scenario" as case numbers continue to rise.

Another 3,227 positive cases of the virus were announced in Northern Ireland on Thursday following on from a then-record 3,231 revealed on Wednesday. Across the UK, there were 119,789 new cases - also a record rise.

The chief executive said the Department of Health has now issued guidance in relation to risk assessments on absent staff who are close-contacts that may allow them to return to work. "[It] allows us on a case-by-case basis to look at individuals in key critical areas and bring them back to work," he said.

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Any frontline services surgery, anaesthetics or intensive care could be considered or even in community and domiciliary care, he said. "It is more likely those who are self-isolating because of being in contact that we would be bringing back," he said.

Critical services will be prioritised as the Department of Health and trusts consider which services can be stood down and where staff can be redeployed, he said.

Emergency services would be a priority and staff are "confident" that given the measures in place, they could continue, he said.


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