The number of staff absences that have swept London as a result of the recent wave of Omicron has hospitals teetering on a “dangerous situation”, a medical expert has warned.
Sickness levels among hospital workers, including doctors and nurses, has risen to around 10 per cent, leaving shifts and wards short-staffed, Royal Colle of Emergency Medicine president, Dr Katherine Henderson said today.
“We are seeing increasingly that our staff are testing positive and that means that they have to go off,” she told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.
“Usually, staff sickness would last a couple of days but of course, if you test Covid positive, you are off for ten days.”
As of this week, Omicron, the latest strain of Covid-19, accounts for more than 60 per cent of infections in the capital.
Henderson explained that the surge in Omicron in London has meant the city’s hospitals has been hardest hit so far.
“People need to understand that this is a dangerous situation,” she added.
“The acute problem is actually to do with staffing, with workforce.
“Because there is so much in circulation, even if we are not seeing a big rise in hospitalisations yet, we are already seeing the effect on not having the staff to run shifts properly and safely.”
It follows the prime minister doubling down on his Plan B approach yesterday evening after, daily Covid-19 cases hit a record high with 78,610 new infections on Wednesday.
Chief medical officer Chris Whitty warned that more records would be broken, with the Government “throwing everything” at the new Omicron variant.
While the exact ratios are not yet known, there will be “substantial” numbers hospitalised after Christmas, as the virus moves at an “absolutely phenomenal pace”, Whitty explained.