Council services in Suffolk so far coping with Covid absentees

Refuse collectors in Ipswich

Council services like bin collections have not been hit by Covid problems in Suffolk yet. - Credit: Paul Geater

The latest Omicron crisis has not yet had an impact on public services across Suffolk - but officials are keeping a close eye on the situation, especially as children return to school.

Across the country there have been reports of public services being put under severe strain because so many workers have reported sick with Covid or been forced into isolation by positive tests.

Rail operator Greater Anglia has been forced to cancel more trains, partly because it does not have enough staff to run a full service and in London there have been reports of services struggling to find enough staff to keep going.

The government has warned public services that they should prepare for 10-25% of their staff to be off sick at any one time as Omicron numbers continue to rise.

But in Suffolk so far local councils and other public services have reported no serious rise in the numbers of those off sick.

A spokesman for Ipswich council said about 4% of staff were off sick with Covid and it did not need to change the way it delivered services at present - although the situation was being kept constantly under review.

There was a similar story at Suffolk County Council. Its total absentee rate, including those who had tested positive for Covid, was similar to that in previous years - but officials were aware that things could change and were keeping a close watch on the situation.

At West Suffolk Council there had been an increase in the number of people going absent because of Covid - but this had not affected services. 

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A spokesman said: “While like all organisations we are seeing increased levels in COVID-19 related sickness, these are still relatively low numbers across the organisation as a whole and so far no services have been significantly affected.

"We would like to thank residents for doing their bit in helping to support us as well as taking actions themselves to be vaccinated and follow social-distancing guidance.”

At the joint Babergh and Mid Suffolk administration, there were no real issues at present but officials were continuing to monitor absentee levels to ensure services could be maintained.