According to data from NHS Digital, 3,675 working days were lost due to Covid-19 absence between March and May.
This means that Covid caused nearly a quarter of the 16,298 lost days due to sickness over the period – one of the largest proportions among NHS trusts in the south west.
But the NHS has urged caution over the figures, as trusts were not required to use the new coronavirus absence code or instructed on how to use it when it was introduced in March.
Julian Feasby, director of human resources at AWMHP, said: “Our sickness absence levels rose in the period from March to May in line with other NHS organisations across the country.
“Throughout this period we have supported our staff as much as possible to ensure their safety, as well as the safety of the people they care for.
“To date we have had very few positive Covid-19 infections confirmed through testing, and absence levels have quickly returned to a more normal, low level.
“Our staff have shown true dedication to keeping themselves and others safe during this challenging time and we are grateful for their commitment to providing safe services. We continue to advise everyone to follow the national guidelines to wash their hands, cover their face where required and to make space to control infection rates.”
The majority of these absences were reported in during the peak of the first wave (April) when 1,635 days were lost. These figures include staff who contracted the virus, those who had to quarantine because someone in their bubble presented symptoms, travel restrictions or because they had been advised to by contact tracers.
Across the nation over one million days were lost in the health service to Covid-related sickness during the period. Miriam Deakin, director of policy and strategy at NHS Providers, said it was not clear how many absences were avoidable.
She said: “These figures show how the real impact of Covid-19 on NHS staff absences continued into the summer even as the initial surge in cases abated. Nearly one in five days lost due to absence during May were Covid-related.”