A TOTAL of 80 staff are absent from the Royal Alexandra Hospital due to Covid issues, it has been revealed.

Worried union leaders had already warned prior to Christmas that the Paisley hospital was facing a “dire” staffing situation, with claims that patient safety was at risk.

Now bosses at NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde (NHSGGC) have revealed the exact number of employees forced to stay off work.

The figure includes those who have tested positive for coronavirus, those who are having to isolate after being identified as household contacts and those who are suffering from 'Long Covid.'

Across the health board area, a total of 1,158 people are off work due to Covid, meaning absences at the RAH account for almost seven per cent.

It is understood efforts are being made to resolve the situation and the health board has previously said a recruitment drive is ongoing for a range of specialities across the hospital.

Earlier this week, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon announced a key change to self-isolation rules, with people who test positive now able to release themselves from the 10-day period if they don't have a fever and deliver two negative tests on days six and seven.

Triple-jabbed contacts of positive cases no longer have to isolate, as long as they take lateral flow tests for a week.

West Scotland MSP Neil Bibby has criticised previous isolation rules for keeping healthy staff away from work.

He said: “The RAH is in the grip of a crisis. Workers were already warning of a chronic staff shortage before Omicron hit and now the pressure on the hospital is enormous.

“The Scottish Government should stand behind staff with a robust NHS Recovery Plan that works.

“Healthy staff have been kept away from the frontline by rules that have now changed. Ministers need to account for their decision and explain whether rules could have changed sooner, given workforce concerns.

“These rules have enormous consequences for the hard-working staff on the frontline in this pandemic. There should always be full, proper engagement with the workforce on the rules that affect them.”

NHSGGC has welcomed the new rules on isolation, saying they will help bolster staff numbers at an extremely challenging time.

A spokesman added: “We want to thank all of our staff for their continuing commitment to our patients, their families and their colleagues during this unprecedented time.

“For a number of weeks, there has been exemption criteria in place which allows health and care staff who are identified as passing/household contacts to continue working, providing certain conditions are met, including testing negative for Covid-19 and taking daily lateral flow tests.

“While this has already helped limit the number of staff having to self-isolate, this week’s announcement means any staff member who has been self-isolating due to having Covid will be able to return to the frontline faster, providing they meet the criteria to do so.

“Across NHSGGC, there are currently 1,158 staff off due to Covid-19, which includes testing positive, self-isolating, household contacts or Long Covid, 80 of whom are based within the RAH.”