NHS staff who have been in the frontline in the Covid pandemic are now being asked to postpone holidays by health bosses in Sunderland due “extreme pressure” caused by a surge in coronavirus cases.
Staff at South Tyneside and Sunderland NHS Foundation Trust are tackling one of the highest infection rates in the country with hospital cases doubling week-on-week.
In an internal note to staff earlier this week, bosses said there were 80 Covid patients receiving hospital treatment compared with just two exactly a month before.
The message began: “The Trust is currently under extreme pressure due to a surge in Covid-19 cases.
“Many people are seriously ill and receiving intensive care support.”
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The surge in cases and rapid spread in the community meant the trust has had to ask for staff’s help, the memo said.
It asked for staff to work additional shifts, with a £250 bonus for staff who could work an extra week of overtime spread over the next six weeks.
They were told they would need to be flexible and might need to work outside their normal area.
And they were asked: “If you are due to take annual leave but feel able to postpone this to help support the Trust’s Covid-19 response, please talk to your line manager ASAP.”
Those staff who can work from home were urged to do so, reducing footfall at trust sites.
The note also urged staff to look after themselves and each other.
It stated: “Thank you all for your continued hard work and incredible support to keep our patients safe.
“It certainly feels like we are entering a very difficult period, especially after the long slog of the past year.”