257 hospital staff off work on long-term sick leave
More than 250 workers at Sandwell's NHS Trust are on long-term sick leave, piling pressure on its two hospitals.
Heath bosses are drawing up plans to dramatically reduce the number of staff off long-term, which they say is risking leaving the wards short-staffed and increasing the reliance on agency workers.
In total during November more than 1,000 were off at Sandwell and Birmingham NHS Trust, which runs Sandwell Hospital and Birmingham City Hospital, with the 257 on long-term sick adding to the 836 short-term absentees.
It came as the trust was entering the crucial festive period.
Trust bosses say the number off on long-term sick is too high and is aiming to reduce the total by more than 100 to below 140.
Chief executive Toby Lewis said that "to succeed we need to have teams in place, with consistent members".
He added: "Next month we will review the plan to reduce below 140 our long term sickness numbers and I report in this annex encouraging estimates of recruitment trajectory compliance by March 2019. The conversion of that success into compliant rosters in medicine remains elusive."
The total has climbed from 218 at the start of 2018 but was as high as 269 in July.