NHS hospitals cancels operations as staff self-isolate amid Covid surge – ‘Less hands’

NHS nurse erupts at Tories threatening Covid rules rebellion

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According to official data, the number of NHS employees in London who couldn’t come to work as they were found to be infected with the virus or needed to self-isolate rose to 40 percent in a week. Leaders at the NHS said that they were worried about the staff crunch.

The health agency leaders felt that the staff shortage could also delay the vaccine booster programme, as the chief nurse called on retired and trainee doctors and nurses to help.

Professor Chris Whitty, 55, chief medical officer for England, on Thursday warned MPs that large numbers of staff who were ill, isolating or taking time off to care for sick relatives were likely to create trouble for the NHS.

He told MPs that a concentrated increase in new coronavirus patients could coincide with “a time when a very significant number of staff are going to be off ill, isolating or caring.

“So you’re going to have a reduction in supply and an increase in demand in the health service over a very short time period”.

Data released by NHS England show that on December 12 there were 12,240 personnel absent for coronavirus-related reasons — 9 percent higher than the same day a week earlier.

The number of Omicron cases in most parts of Britain were doubling in less than two days with a figure of 1.5 days in London according to data collated by the UK Health Security Agency.

A record number of daily coronavirus cases have been reported across the UK for the second day running, with 88,376 infections confirmed on Thursday.

Professor Tim Spector, lead scientist on the Zoe Covid Study app, said they were “seeing two to three times as many mild infections in people with boosters in Omicron areas as in Delta variant areas”, with levels at nearly 2 percent in London compared with 0.7 to 1 percent in Delta areas.

Professor Katherine Henderson, president of the Royal College of Emergency Medicine, told Today on BBC Radio 4 that staff were also reluctant to take on extra agency shifts because of the risk of picking up infections before family Christmas gatherings.

She said lower staff levels meant patients were at risk because there were “less pairs of eyes, less pairs of hands, to keep an eye on patients and do the treatments we need”.

The Health Service Journal said some London hospitals were cancelling non-urgent care and sending staff to work in other areas, although not all trusts in the capital have had to do so.

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Ben Travis, chief executive of Lewisham and Greenwich Trust, told staff in a video message that in the face of high absence rates some services would need to “step down non-urgent care in order to redeploy staff to support urgent services across the organisation”.

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