THE number of hospital staff who called in sick increased in December.

The sickness absence level at Bolton NHS Foundation Trust rose to 5.67 per cent in the last month of 2019.

Director of workforce James Mawrey told a board meeting that the short term absence rate was "really, really high" in December.

Chief executive Dr Jackie Bene said it could be linked to postcodes.

She said: "There's something around our demographics. Our staff mostly come from BL3 and BL4. We think the levels of sickness in these populations are higher."