THE NHS is facing a coronavirus “staffing crisis” with one in 10 off sick as cases continue to hit hospitals, a leading doctor has warned.
David Strain, Covid advisor to the British Medical Association, said the problem threatens to derail the NHS as it struggles to cope with a surge cases from the mutant strain of Covid.
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He said the “wartime spirit” shown by medics working 90-hour weeks in the first wave was “not sustainable” and burnout is contributing to current sickness levels.
“The NHS has been running on just about enough doctors and nurses for 10 to 15 years,” Dr Strain, a hospital consultant in Exeter, told the Sunday Mirror.
“So with up to 10 per cent of healthcare workers off sick, there are no longer enough. It is why we can’t open the Nightingale hospitals.”
Photos from the sites across the UK show the Nightingale hospitals empty or deserted amid staff shortages.
NHS hospitals, mental health services and community providers report a shortage of 87,000 staff.
NHS England said the London, Birmingham and Sunderland hospitals are on standby, Manchester is open for “non-Covid care”, Exeter and Harrogate as “specialist diagnostics centres”, and Bristol for “local NHS services”.
It comes as cases have increased by 45 per cent in a week with 34,693 new infections recorded across the UK and a further 210 deaths.
A total of 2,256,005 have now tested positive for coronavirus in the UK with a total of 70,405 deaths.
Millions of Brits were yesterday plunged into Tier 4 of England's coronavirus lockdown system as cases continue to soar across the country.
Tier 4 in England now covers 43 per cent of the population – 24 million people.
An NHS spokesman said the latest figures on staff sickness were for August, when the rate was 3.95 per cent.
A Department of Health and Social Care spokesman added: “Latest NHS data shows there are currently fewer staff absences than the first wave in April.
“Staff vacancies are falling with 13,300 more nurses and 6,000 more doctors working in the NHS in the last year.”
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