SICKNESS absence at Royal Bolton Hospital has 'significantly increased' with nearly one in 10 staff off work in October.

A report to Bolton's NHS Foundation Trust's directors says staff have felt 'fatigued, anxious and suffering from moral injury which is impacting on their psychological wellbeing'.

The report, 'Covid-19 Staff Wellness Programme' details 'actions to ensure staff are supported during the second wave of the pandemic.

James Mawrey, the trust's people director, said: "Our overall sickness absence level has significantly increased due to the pandemic.

"In October 2020 our overall sickness absence rate was 8.76 per cent. On a positive note, Bolton has the lowest sickness absence levels in Greater Manchester and one of the lowest in the North West.

"Our impressive sickness management performance is testament to the approach taken alongside swift decision making by our Covid command structure."

Mr Mawrey told the board staff at the hospital had made "incredible sacrifices" since May.

He said: "People working across health and social care have come together and stepped up in ways never seen before, changing the way they work, making significant personal sacrifices and working harder and longer hours.

"In response to this the trust has accelerated its’ staff wellness agenda by putting in place a plethora of support to help our employees to cope more effectively with increased operational pressures, the psychological impact of the pandemic and manage their home commitments."

The trust has introduced mental health telephone support and bereavement aid.

A care programme was attended by 104 employees and 85 staff accessed the same course online.

The trust has set up 'lavender rooms' to provide a safe and quiet space for staff to take time out and access wellbeing resources.

Hospital officials say they intend to convert an old sports and social club into a staff wellness centre but plans have been put on hold because the space is currently being used as changing facilities.

The report added: "We must continue to look after our incredibly hard working staff by taking robust actions to keep them safe, healthy and well, both physically and psychologically."