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COVID absence in NHS down more than a quarter in a week

Nurses remain under intense pressure with absence from work still high, and no prospect of long-term workforce plan to fix staffing shortage
Exhausted-looking nurse sits leaning her head against a wall

But nurses remain under intense pressure with absence from work still high, and no prospect of long-term workforce plan to fix staffing shortage

There is still no end in sight to the extreme pressures on nurses despite a drop in sickness absence and critical COVID-19 cases, the RCN said.

Some 29,517 staff at NHS hospitals in England were absent for COVID-related reasons on 16 January, down 26% from 40,031 a week earlier.

But this is still more than double the 12,508 in a 24-hour period at the start of December, according to NHS England and NHS Improvement data .

Exhausted nurses need ministers to invest in nursing

Figures published on Thursday also showed there

But nurses remain under intense pressure with absence from work still high, and no prospect of long-term workforce plan to fix staffing shortage

Exhausted-looking nurse sits leaning her head against a wall
Picture: Alamy

There is still no end in sight to the extreme pressures on nurses despite a drop in sickness absence and critical COVID-19 cases, the RCN said.

Some 29,517 staff at NHS hospitals in England were absent for COVID-related reasons on 16 January, down 26% from 40,031 a week earlier.

But this is still more than double the 12,508 in a 24-hour period at the start of December, according to NHS England and NHS Improvement data.

Exhausted nurses need ministers to invest in nursing

Figures published on Thursday also showed there were 2,984 patients in critical care beds in England on 16 January, down from 3,363 on 16 December.

‘As ministers relax the COVID-19 restrictions, nursing staff are exhausted. They need government to grip the reality and come up with a fully-funded workforce plan’

Patricia Marquis, director, RCN England

RCN Director for England Patricia Marquis said the figures were no grounds for complacency.

She said: ‘Nursing staff are facing huge seasonal pressures, with tens of thousands of vacancies, an enormous backlog and no end in sight.

‘As ministers relax the COVID-19 restrictions, nursing staff are exhausted. They need government to grip the reality, come up with a fully-funded workforce plan and invest in those staff or there is real risk to patient care and of an exodus of experienced nurses.’

The NHS’s weekly figures also show 83,000 patients in England arrived at hospital by ambulance last week – up more than 2,000.

The figures came just after prime minister Boris Johnson announced an end to all the ‘Plan B’ coronavirus restrictions that include the advice to work from home, and mandatory face coverings in schools, shops and restaurants.


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