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London hospitals in ‘dangerous situation’ as staff sickness soars amid Omicron wave

London’s hospitals have been plunged into a “dangerous situation” as the Omicron wave has sent staff sickness levels soaring to around 10%, a top doctor has warned.

Dr Katherine Henderson, a consultant at a central London hospital but speaking as President of the Royal College of Emergency Medicine, said so many doctors and nurses are having to be off that it was already having an impact on patient safety.

She told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “We are seeing increasingly that our staff are testing positive and that means that they have to go off."

“Usually, staff sickness would last a couple of days but of course, if you test Covid positive, you are off for ten days.

“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."

“So we are worried about patient harm coming about because we just don’t have the staff to keep the eye on the person on the trolley who is maybe a bit agitated.”

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Source: The Evening Standard, 16 December 2021


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