Staff absences show tangible real-time impact of Omicron

23 December 2021

Responding to the latest NHS winter "sitrep" figures, the chief executive of NHS Providers, Chris Hopson, said:

"These figures show how Omicron is having a tangible real-time impact on a service that was already operating beyond full stretch, through increased staff absences.

"This is a big worry for trust leaders who are doing all they can to support colleagues at this very challenging time.

"Absences due to COVID-19 are up nearly 40%, and with community infections surging ahead, that figure may well get worse before it gets better.

"The pressures on hospitals, mental health, community and ambulance services are intense.

"Hospital bed occupancy remains high, and despite some improvement, ambulance handover delays are a continuing cause for deep concern, reflecting wider pressure across the system.

"It's worrying to see delayed discharges have increased again for patients who are fit to go home or to other community settings.

"The next few weeks will present a huge test for the NHS on many fronts – coping with COVID-19, handling emergencies, working on the backlog where possible, and delivering boosters.

"Once again, staff are being asked to go the extra mile, working flat out through the holiday period.

"We owe them so much."

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