Postal services hit in Ormskirk and Burscough as Royal Mail staff fall ill

Postal services have been hit with long delays in Ormskirk and Burscough as a result of “extremely high levels of absence” at Ormskirk Delivery Office.

Dozens of staff have been advised to self-isolate by NHS Test and Trace, leaving some residents having to wait weeks between deliveries

The Royal Mail told West Lancashire MP Rosie Cooper that agency staff and colleagues from the Wigan branch were being drafted in to help sort out the backlogs, while the likes of PPE deliveries, Covid-19 tests and vaccination letters are being prioritised.

Ms Cooper contacted the service after complaints from residents about the lack of deliveries and was advised that it had been caused by a raft of absences over Christmas.

The Royal Mail did not respond to a request for comment or further information when contacted by LancsLive.

But in a letter to Ms Cooper, Michael Hogg, senior public affairs and policy manager, apologised for the inconvenience caused by the disruption to services.

He wrote: “The Christmas peak, which is always our busiest time of the year, concluded what had already been an extremely challenging year with unprecedented volumes of parcels, and significant changes to our working practices to comply with COVID-19 restrictions. The subsequent announcement of further lockdowns across the UK has led to continued high volumes of items in our network.

“Unfortunately, despite our best endeavours and all the precautions we have implemented, like the rest of the UK our people are not immune from the effects of COVID-19, We are experiencing extremely high levels of absence at Ormskirk Delivery Office, mainly due to colleagues having to self-isolate following contact from Test and Trace.

“As you will appreciate this has a direct impact on our staffing levels. Unfortunately, because people have to isolate immediately, we receive no advance warning of a sudden drop in attendance, making it harder to plan ahead.”

Cllr Adrian Owens, who represents Derby Ward in Ormskirk, had earlier called on the service to employ temporary staff to ease the burden on those still working or soon to return and welcomed that commitment. However, he warned questions must be asked as to how so many staff were left needing to isolate in the first place.

Cllr Owens said: “Other Royal Mail offices haven’t seen the same disruption. Management are supposed to ensure controls are in place so that staff are kept apart as much as possible. They have a duty to their staff to keep them safe.”

Ms Cooper said: “Our postal workers have been instrumental in keeping the country moving during this crisis and it is right that they have followed public health advice and self-isolated when told to do so. It is disappointing to hear that residents’ service will be disrupted, but I am glad to hear that priority is being given to deliveries from the NHS, especially with regard to the vital matter of booking vaccination appointments.

“I trust that regular service will be restored as soon as possible, and I have requested regular updates as the situation develops.”

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