NHS still under pressure as COVID-19 cases rise

17 March 2022

Responding to the latest week of winter reporting data, from NHS England and NHS Improvement, the chief executive of NHS Providers, Chris Hopson, said:

"These latest figures show the NHS is still facing significant pressures, with no sign of pressures abating as we head into spring.

"Occupancy rates of critical care beds and general accident and emergency beds remain stable but high.

"It is worrying that handover delays have increased for the fourth consecutive week, with nearly a quarter having to wait 30 minutes or more – reflecting wider pressures across health and care.

"The increase in COVID-related staff absences reflects the rising numbers of COVID cases in the community and in COVID hospital admissions in recent weeks.

"While it is positive that the levels of serious illness are lower than in previous waves - which demonstrates just how successful the vaccination programme has been – the rising number of patients with COVID-19, combined with increased staff absences will have knock on effects for patient care. For example, separating COVID-19 positive patients to prevent others getting infected does mean fewer beds are available, and that can impact upon work to bear down on waiting lists.

"Trust leaders will continue to keep a close eye on these increasing COVID-19 admissions in the coming weeks.

"But the rising staff absences also underline the need to fill the gaps when colleagues are absent from work, and why a long-term workforce plan is so vital."

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