The figures follow an increase in NHS staff shortages, with almost half of those out of work at the start of the month missing because they had Covid or were forced to isolate. Nearly 100,000 NHS staff were missing on Jan. 6, more than eight percent of the workforce. More than 49,700 had Covid or were isolated due to the virus.
The figures represent a “perfect catastrophic storm” for the NHS, as staff shortages and the growing number of patients coming with Covid make it more difficult to manage infection control, according to Dr Rinesh Parmar, president of the Medical Association. uk
He said: “Controlling the infection when our hospitals are overcrowded becomes extremely difficult. We are creating new areas within the hospital to care for more and more patients with Covid, and that means patients sometimes have to also move, from one area to another.
“We need to transfer Covid-free patients to other parts of the hospital where they normally cannot be cared for, and in addition you have a situation where more and more staff have to care for Covid-positive patients.”
A healthcare practitioner at a hospital in the north of England told the Telegraph that a Covid ward had been turned into a general ward within a single day as managers adjusted beds. The ward was deeply cleaned but the adjacent areas were not, said the health care physician.
Staff at some hospitals with large numbers of sick workers have also faced pressure to return to work quickly after having Covid or being exposed to the virus.
At the University of Manchester NHS Foundation Trust, a doctor allegedly was instructed to continue working even though they had been exposed to Covid and had not had any evidence to confirm that they were negative. On 6 January, the last date for which data are available trust had 816 staff are ill or isolated due to Covid, the fourth highest amount in England.
A spokesman for the University of Manchester NHS Foundation Trust said: “To ensure the safety of our staff and patients, the trust strictly follows the guidelines set nationally by PHE for healthcare workers who are in contact with staff or patients who are “Covid-19 positive. In accordance with that instruction, staff are required to self-insulate when appropriate.”
The absenteeism rate has also risen across all major London hospitals, in line with Covid rates in the capital, with around 788 staff due to Covid at Kings College NHS Hospital Trust.
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