• Cornwall Partnership Foundation Trust reporting 18 per cent of its medical staff absent
  • Trust had no medical absences three weeks ago
  • Comes as Matt Hancock disputes royal college survey figures  

Covid-19 related absence rates for medics at a community and mental health trust have risen to nearly 20 per cent in the last three weeks, new figures have revealed.

On 13 March, Cornwall Partnership Foundation Trust had no absences within its medical and dental workforce in relation to covid-19. Twenty days later, on 2 April, 26 staff — making up 18.3 per cent of this workforce group — were recorded as absent, according to an internal report composed by the FT, seen by HSJ.

The absences are composed up of several covid-19 related reasons: self-isolation, isolation but working, (covid-19) diagnosis, “high risk capacity”, “high risk dependant support”, and “stranded abroad”. 

CPFT’s percentage for medical absences matches the figure published by the Royal College of Physicians in a survey on Sunday, which reported 18.3 per cent of the medical workforce across NHS trusts in England (excluding London) are currently absent from work due to coronavirus.

Speaking on Sky News on Sunday, health and social care secretary Matt Hancock disputed the college’s figure, instead saying 5.7 per cent of doctors are currently absent due to covid-19 as well as 8 per cent for all front-line staff.

CPFT’s medics are the workforce group with the highest absence rate at the trust currently.

However, absence rates among other staffing groups have also risen, having been almost 0 on 13 March. 

As of 2 April, 15 per cent of the trust’s students are absent, while 9.8 per cent of nurses and midwives are also absent. The trust’s overall staff absence rate — including non-clinical staff — is now 9 per cent.

Most trusts are yet to publish their March workforce figures. However, one acute trust leader told HSJ their organisation had a 9 per cent covid-19 related absence overall; several others have given figures of around 10-15 per cent overall covid-19 related absence.

Story updated at on the afternoon of 7 April to set out details of the reasons for absence, to clarify that the figures all relate to absence caused by covid-19, and to include further context from other trusts.