ROTA planning, recruitment activity and pausing non-critical projects are some of the ways in which Salisbury District Hospital is responding to staff absences.

This comes after new data revealed that absence in the Salisbury NHS Foundation Trust reached its highest point since April 2020 in December 2021.

According to data newswire Radar, the latest NHS Digital figures show 4.8 per cent of the available full-time equivalent working days were classified as absent in the trust.

The impact of these figures has been felt in the hospital in recent weeks, with one nurse claiming wards are still “acutely understaffed” leaving nurses “exhausted”.

As well as these recorded absences, caused predominantly by anxiety, stress, depression and mental health reasons, the hospital says the number of patients onsite has also increased the pressure.

At the end of April an internal critical incident was declared to deal with the decline in staff, in addition to delays to the ambulance service and patient discharges.

The staffing levels, combined with “intense pressure on the hospital due to the number of patients being treated and difficulties in finding some patients a safe and appropriate place to be discharged to”, is “a challenge” for the hospital, said Salisbury NHS Foundation Trust chief executive Stacey Hunter.

Despite this the chief exec has assured the Journal steps are in place to improve the situation.

She said: “These include increased recruitment activity such as the upcoming recruitment day for healthcare assistants, better use of rota planning that includes the scheduling of annual leave, and the pausing of non-critical projects in order to free up staff time to support our frontline teams.

"While the situation has slightly eased from the internal critical incident, we will be maintaining a keen focus on managing our patient flow and working to facilitate early safe discharge whenever possible.

“We are incredibly grateful for the continued support of our community in helping loved ones return home as soon as possible. I would like to thank all our staff for the enormous effort they are making every day and our partners across the health and care system for all their support.”

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