Nurses react as they treat a COVID-19 patient in the ICU (Intensive Care Unit) at Milton Keynes University Hospital, amid the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, Milton Keynes, Britain, January 20, 2021. REUTERS/Toby Melville
British hospitals, particularly in London, are struggling to maintain staffing levels due to the number who are having to isolate with COVID-19, a senior emergency doctor said on Thursday.
With a new highly transmissible Omicron variant of the virus surging, Britain on Wednesday recorded its highest number of daily coronavirus cases since the start of the pandemic, with a further 78,610 COVID-19 infections reported.
“The acute problem is actually to do with staffing,” Katherine Henderson, an emergency consultant in London and President of the Royal College of Emergency Medicine, told BBC Radio.
“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.” Henderson said London was particularly hard hit.
“We are looking at probably about 10% staff, that is doctors and nurses, who are having to be off.”