A total of 39,142 NHS staff in hospital trusts in England were absent for Covid-19 reasons on 2 January, up 59% on the previous week (24,632) and more than tripled (12,508) at the beginning of December, according to new figures from NHS England.
The total includes employees who were sick with the coronavirus or had to self-isolate.
In north-west England, 7,338 NHS staff in hospital trusts were absent due to Covid-19 on 2 January, up 85% from 3,966 week-on-week, while in north-east England and Yorkshire 8,788 were absent, double The number from more than a week ago (4,179).
Absences in London were up 4% week-on-week, rising from 4,580 to 4,765.
Dr Chand Nagpaul, council chairman of the British Medical Association (BMA), told Sky News: “We have never known this level of staff absenteeism”, adding: “Every winter, there is additional pressure on the NHS, but I don’t think anyone working in the NHS has experienced this level of absence of their colleagues and we are feeling it in very real time as doctors and nurses and healthcare workers are there for their absent colleagues. Covering up—it’s adding extra, extraordinary stress.”
He said that although Omicron was modest, people were still falling seriously ill with Covid-19 and hospitals were dealing with an NHS treatment backlog, with almost six million people on waiting lists.
Asked how close the NHS was to being overwhelmed, he said: “I think words like overwhelmed, I mean, I think we should just look at the reality.
“The reality of the Army drafting in London, the reality of 24 hospitals declaring serious incidents, the reality of some hospitals canceling all their routine surgeries, the reality of normal practices having to cancel clinics on the day.
“I am a GP, I have never known it so bad. We have to literally contact patients without any notice that staff members or doctors or nurses are not there today because they are self-isolating.
“This is not normal, and therefore, the government needs to recognize that this is clearly an NHS under immense pressure and the sad thing for thousands of patients is that they suffer the consequences of such pressure and staff absenteeism. are.”
London will receive the support of the armed forces to tackle the high absenteeism rate among health workers, but according to one minister, there are “encouraging” signs that the city is emerging from the Omicron wave.
London minister Paul Scully, when asked whether O’Microen is resting in the capital, told the LBC: “I think it’s looking encouraging, the trend at the moment, but clearly we have to be on our guard.” Needed because the NHS is still under pressure in London.
“It’s not just about case numbers – there’s a clear disconnect between case numbers and hospitalizations – but still, with increased testing and increased awareness by people, you’ve also got bigger absenteeism, and that’s clearly Putting extra pressure on the NHS and other public services.”
Mr Scully said military personnel being deployed to the capital would have “a mix of drugs, porterage and the like” to aid hospitals, but said he did not have details on where they would help. .
He added: “We also have a digital staff passport for the NHS, which allows staff to move between hospitals, so where the pressure is greatest, that will be where NHS staff are kept, but at the same time military personnel as well.”
Air Commodore John Lyle told BBC Breakfast the military remained in discussions about further support for the NHS in other parts of the country.
“We can’t really predict much ahead, but certainly, during this current boom, we know it’s going to be particularly difficult in London at the moment, but we know it’s going to affect the whole of the United Kingdom.” doing,” he said.
“And so we keep discussions and there are a number of areas where we are seeing the potential for more assistance.
“So, in the coming weeks or months, I think we will learn a lot from how we progress through London and potentially in other areas that may need further military assistance.”
He said the troops “have a long history of supporting all government departments but especially the NHS over the past two years”, adding: “This is nothing new.
“Today’s announcement regarding aid to hospitals in London is one part of a wider picture where we have found more than 1,800 people supporting across the United Kingdom, members of all three armed forces – both regular and reserve – in areas of assistance. In the form of a booster program… supporting ambulance services, and of course, aiding hospitals.”