Healthcare suppliers in London are scuffling with the absence of Omicron employees

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The number of NHS workers in London on sick leave has risen sharply in recent days, threatening to delay treatment and highlighting the risks to public health as the UK battles one of the world’s largest outbreaks of the Omicron variant coronavirus.

Data released on Monday showed 220 Covid-positive patients were admitted to hospitals in the capital on Friday, the highest daily number since February 10.

It is not known what proportion were admitted for treatment with severe Covid-19 and what proportion were only diagnosed with the disease after admission for some other reason, but figures released last week suggest the amount of these ‘accidental “Intakes” while still likely is a minority, may rise.

The impact of the disease was underscored when the number of NHS staff absent due to Covid in London doubled in just four days last week, internal Health Service Journal data suggested, with one in three staff unable to work until New Year’s Eve when the Growth pace continued.

An official familiar with the situation disputed that forecast, saying the increases would “hopefully reach some sort of plateau over the next few days”. But in some parts of the capital the proportion of missing is even higher, they announced: “Some NHS jobs have been decimated.”

Danny Mortimer, chief executive of NHS Employers, who represents labor leaders, acknowledged the situation in London was “extremely worrying”. While sick leave is typically around 5 to 6 percent this time of year, “some places are reporting 8 [or] 9 percent,” he added.

“Many, many of our colleagues are changing plans over the next week to allow them to work extra shifts,” he said, but added that some non-emergency work would have to be canceled over the next few days.

NHS England last week issued an edict that at least half of all patients medically fit to travel must be discharged to free beds for a likely surge in Covid patients.

However, Mortimer said the transfer of care would be more difficult due to absences from community facilities, GP surgeries, nursing homes and home teams. “The whole system is under pressure,” he added.

But even in London, where the British Omicron wave first hit, this bleak picture is not universal. David Probert, chief executive of University College London Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, one of the capital’s flagship institutions, said: “As things stand today, we can continue to offer full elective care and full emergency care to all of our eight hospital sites.”

The number of Covid patients admitted had increased slightly in recent days, “but nothing would be classified as a significant increase at this point,” he added.

Official data released last week showed the 169 extra coronavirus-positive patients in hospital in London in the week ending December 14, 111 were not being treated primarily for Covid, suggesting the figures reflect the magnitude of the extra pressure on the NHS.

But at Barts Health NHS Trust, the country’s largest, a critical care adviser, who asked not to be named, suggested the staffing crisis was becoming increasingly unsustainable.

At Newham Hospital, one of the Trust’s five sites, a third of surgical staff were on sick leave due to Covid at the end of last week.

“The risk is that we will be caring for people in a ratio that the UK has never seen in terms of nurses to patients or doctors to patients and that will have a direct impact on survival.” , said a health worker.

NHS London said the Omicron variant is spreading rapidly in London, “and this is affecting all Londoners, including NHS staff, resulting in higher levels of staff absenteeism and teams are working hard to minimize the impact of this and.” to work flexibly during this time”.

Measures taken to increase staffing levels included “deploying both clinical and non-clinical staff at arm’s length to assist with the immunization effort and in other clinical settings, and . . . Helping people who have recently left the profession to come back at this time to support the NHS,” it added.

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