Nearly 600 NHS workers off sick with Covid after outbreak at Stoke and Stafford hospitals

ALMOST 600 NHS staff are off work with coronavirus following an outbreak at two hospitals.

Workers at Royal Stoke University hospital and Stafford's County Hospital are now being urged to take care in a bid to stop the spread of the virus.

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University Hospitals of North Midlands trust confirmed 583 NHS staff have tested positive following an outbreak.

The trust employs around 11,500 people with 987 staff off sick in total.

It comes after six hospital staff were reportedly sent home with the bug after failing to wear masks while car-sharing to and from work.

Government guidelines state people must wear face masks if they are travelling in a vehicle with anyone from another household.

John Oxtoby, UHNM medical director, said: “Our staff at University Hospital of North Midlands, like those in the NHS across the country, have been working incredibly hard with no real respite between the first wave of the pandemic, the recovery of services and now the second surge of Covid-19.

"We all obviously have a responsibility to observe national guidance and our staff are regularly kept up to date with the latest advice as it becomes available.

“Wearing a face mask and eye protection alongside hand washing and social distancing are all important measures of reducing the spread of Covid-19 in our hospitals and to keep our patients and communities safe.

“The pandemic has asked a lot of us all and it is important to continue to remind our staff to look after themselves and each other.”

It comes as it emerged the government has asked GPs to prepare to give a Covid vaccine to the over 85s and NHS staff from next month.

The boss of NHS England, Sir Simon Stevens, said the health service will be "geared up" to administer any potential Covid-19 jab if it becomes available.

He told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "There are over 200 vaccines in development and we believe that we should hopefully get one or more of those available from the first part of next year.

"In anticipation of that we're also gearing the NHS up to be ready to make a start on administering Covid vaccines before Christmas, if they become available.

"We reached an agreement with GPs to ensure they will be doing that, and we'll be writing to GP practices this week to get them geared up to start by Christmas if the vaccine becomes available." 

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