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Concern for Addenbrooke’s as 500 staff off sick and 103 beds closed across Cambridge University Hospitals

Five hundred staff employed by Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust are absent due to sickness, the Cambridge Independent can reveal.

Internal figures we have seen today (Friday, October 29) reveal that 103 beds are also closed amid the staffing crisis.

The trust, which runs the Addenbrooke’s Hospital and the Rosie Hospital in Cambridge, employs more than 11,000 people.

Addenbrooke's Hospital Picture: Keith Heppell
Addenbrooke's Hospital Picture: Keith Heppell

No timeframe was released with the figure of 500. Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust has confirmed that 408 staff were absence due to sickness on October 28, of which 162 absences were Covid-related.

It comes in the week that an investigation was launched after a patient died in the back of an ambulance following a handover delay at Addenbrooke’s.

Staff have been urged to focus on using personal protective equipment to help prevent the spread of Covid-19 and to perform tests even if they have no symptoms.

Visits to the hospital have been restricted as the Cambridge University Hospital attempts to reduce the risk of infections being spread.

Asked by the Cambridge Independent about the mounting concerns, the city’s Labour MP, Daniel Zeichner, said he was “worried” about the situation at Addenbrooke’s and blamed the government for “being far too slow to respond to warnings”, arguing its complacency would lead to more suffering.

He said: “I’m frankly worried about the situation at Addenbrooke’s. Exhausted staff are doing their best but they themselves are getting ill and staff absences are rising.

“Our NHS heroes are being let down by a government that’s lost its grip, picking fights with GPs and being far too slow to respond to warnings. Hospitals are having to reintroduce more Covid safety measures.

“Why won’t the government do the obvious thing and get more people wearing masks again rather than pretend this is all over? I am concerned this out-of-touch government is once again ignoring warning signs and that inevitably more deaths and heartache will follow.”

Cambridge MP Daniel Zeichner Picture: Keith Heppell.
Cambridge MP Daniel Zeichner Picture: Keith Heppell.

The figures also show the trust is treating 42 Covid-19 positive patients, of which five are in critical care. This is higher than it has been in recent weeks, and comes as 3,351 cases of the virus were confirmed in Cambridgeshire in the week to October 24 - one of the highest seven-day figures since the pandemic began.

Councils and public health authorities in Cambridgeshire are looking at enhanced measures, such as additional testing regimes, to help get a grip of the virus.

The figures did not show how many of the staff off at Cambridge University Hospitals have Covid.

But the pressure on Addenbrooke’s extends across well beyond the Covid wards.

It was revealed on Monday that a patient had died outside A&E in an ambulance.

The patient arrived at the hospital on Sunday, October 24, just before 10pm with chest pain and was assessed by a registered nurse. The patient remained in the ambulance and was monitored by paramedics due to “significant pressures” on A&E.

But just before 11pm the patient had a cardiac arrest and died despite attempts by ambulance and emergency department staff to resuscitate them.

Earlier in the month, the trust recorded a “record day” with 459 attendances to accident and emergency.

Last month, the Cambridge Independent revealed that Addenbrooke’s was facing “significant ongoing challenges” with “extremely high demand across all of its services”.

The trust issued a plea for people to use the “right service at the right time” to help support the NHS, adding: “Get vaccinated if you haven’t done so already – and be cautious in how you embrace the new freedoms available.”

The NHS England data for September showed there were 15,176 attendances to A&E – up six per cent from 14,341 in August.

Cambridge University Hospitals again topped the list last month for the highest number of patients waiting 12 hours or more to be admitted in the East of England, with 156 occasions.

The trust also saw 1,017 patients waiting four hours or more to be admitted. Both figures were up from August.

Cambridge University Hospitals has been approached for comment.

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