Responding to NHS England’s latest winter sitrep, Dr Layla McCay, director of policy at the NHS Confederation, said:
“COVID-19 infection rates are rising, and as these numbers show NHS staff absences are also once again going up. In addition to rising in number, the proportion of COVID-related staff absences has also jumped to over 30 per cent.
“These numbers are concerning and reverse the previous falling trend we had been seeing since early January. If rates continue to rise this will put further pressure on the NHS and could undermine its ability to tackle the elective backlog. This will also have knock-on effects in community and primary care settings where demand far outstrips capacity.
“Any rise in COVID related staff absences also serves to compound existing pressures on the NHS which is carrying 110,000 vacancies. We now urgently need to see a long-term fully costed workforce plan from government.”