Half of care homes in Greater Manchester unable to accept new residents due to staff absences

Around half of care homes in Greater Manchester are unable to accept new residents due to Covid-19 staffing absences, latest figures show.

Outlining the impact of the fresh wave of coronavirus cases, Mayor Andy Burnham said social care was the public service sector most affected.

He said there are about 650 people in hospital beds who are medically fit to be discharged, but a shortage of care homes to take them.

In an online briefing, Mr Burnham (pictured) told reporters around 15% of NHS staff were off either ill or isolating, nearly 14% of workers at Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service were absent, along with 9.5% of Greater Manchester Police employees and 13% of Metrolink tram drivers.

Predicting a “very challenging month ahead”, he added: “We need to have our eyes wide open to what could lie ahead in the rest of January and we need to see the real risks to the continuity of provision in some of our critical public services.

“The position in schools will only be clear in the next week or so but it’s unlikely to be any different from those other public services.”

Mr Burnham welcomed the Government’s moves to ease testing rules for people without symptoms as he pointed to availability problems with PCR and lateral flow testing over the holiday period.

Rising levels of staff absences in the NHS were given as the main reason for Tuesday’s pausing of elective care in hospitals across Greater Manchester.

Mr Burnham said: “It’s a temporary move that will be kept under regular review. The minute it can be lifted, it will be lifted.

“This is always the most challenging moment of the year for the NHS, so the timing of this wave is probably the worst possible timing.”

The seven-day rate of positive Covid-19 cases per 100,000 population continues to increase across the region’s 10 boroughs, he said, with a tenfold rise in the over-60s age category in December.

There had also been a significant rise in the percentage of care home residents with confirmed Covid-19 or showing symptoms, with an increase from 0.9% in the week ending December 22 to 4.7% in the week ending January 5.

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