More than 18,000 NHS staff were said to be off sick with Covid in the past seven days – a rise of 50% in one week.
According to new data, 18,829 NHS staff were registered to be off sick with Covid, with thousands of patients left in hospital awaiting discharge.
In London, the centre of the current Omicron wave, 3,874 members of staff were off sick, which is three times more than the previous week, from December 12.
Other areas closely followed the capital, with the Midlands recording 3,855 off sick. While the South East and the East of England saw a 61% and 58% increase in sickness among staff respectively, The Independent reports.
The news comes amid concerns of how the virus will impact the NHS in the new year.
Hospitals in England have forecast that more than 30% of staff could be off sick in January as the new variant continues to spread.
On Thursday, December 23, data published by the NHS showed that as of December 19 nearly 5,000 patients were awaiting discharge for over three weeks. This figure is out of the 15,718 patients who are currently in hospital and do not need to be there.
The data comes as NHS leaders have been told they will need to treat 15% of Covid patients at home, in ‘virtual wards’.
The NHS have also been asked to ‘urgently’ discharge those who no longer require a hospital bed, to make space for an expected increase of Covid admissions in January.
As of December 19, the data published showed that 90% of hospital beds were occupied.
National medical director Professor Stephen Powis said:
The NHS is on a war footing and staff are taking the fight to omicron, by boosting hundreds of thousands of people each day, treating thousands of seriously ill Covid patients and delivering urgent care for other conditions, all while seeing a worrying, high and rising increase in absence due to Covid.
‘We are once again ramping up to deal with the rise in Covid infections, and quite rightly staff are making every possible preparation for the uncertain challenges of omicron, including recruiting thousands of nurses and reservists, but while we’ll leave no stone unturned to get the NHS battle ready, it remains the case that the best way to protect yourself and others is to follow guidance and to come forward and get your first, second and booster jabs,’ he added.
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