In Week Two of its Winter Watch, NHS Providers reports that Trusts are now starting to experience rising numbers of staff absences either due to sickness or self isolation. As infection numbers increase at a rapid rate, staff shortages are expected to escalate across all emergency services.
NHS Trust leaders are said to be "deeply concerned" about the surge in COVID-19 cases. "Trust leaders are telling us that Omicron is already creating staff shortages in the NHS. In Omicron hotspots like London, absences are starting to rise rapidly. This is exactly what we would expect, given community infection rates are shooting up," says Saffron Cordery, Deputy Chief Executive of NHS Providers.
"Trust leaders are understandably concerned about what might come as the variant takes hold in the community, and consequently within the health and care workforce. The impact on the workloads for remaining staff is a major challenge given the huge service demand currently across the NHS. This reinforces why having a jab is so important to protect staff and the public.
"We came into this pandemic with significant staff shortages. Trust leaders are calling for a fully funded and costed workforce plan so that they have the assurance of the right staff in the right places in the future."
Over the weekend, the Mayor of London Sadiq Khan, declared a 'major incident'. He told the BBC: "I'm incredibly worried about staff absences in the NHS, in the fire brigade, in the police service, in our councils across London."
This morning, HSJ reports that Covid-related staff absences in the NHS across London increased by 140% between Sunday, December 12 and Thursday, December 16. If this daily growth rate continues, around one in ten staff will be off for Covid-related reasons by Christmas Day and around one in three by New Year’s Eve.