Omicron surge: More than 40% of London NHS staff absences due to Covid-19, figures reveal

An average of 7,956 healthcare staff were off sick from London hospitals in the week to Sunday, NHS data reveals.

More than two in five staff absences from London’s hospitals last week were due to Covid-19, figures have revealed.

Almost 8,000 NHS staff were absent from the capital’s hospitals every day last week, with more than 42.5% due to sickness or isolation because of coronavirus.

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An average of 7,956 healthcare staff were off sick from hospitals across the capital in the week ending Sunday, December 19, data from NHS England has revealed.

On average, 3,383 of NHS staff absences were due to coronavirus.

On Tuesday, December 14, there were 4,890 absences due to Covid, the highest number on any day in that week.

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It comes as the spread of the Omicron Covid-19 variant has sparked concern about the NHS being overwhelmed by seriously ill patients combined with high levels of staff absences.

Across the city’s 21 acute hospital trusts, more than 8,000 staff were absent on four days in that week, while more than 7,000 were absent on two days, and 6,000 on the remaining day.

While the trust with the highest number of staff absences was Guys and St Thomas’ NHS trust, which had an average of 1,068 absences that week.

Imperial College London NHS trust had an average of 826 absences that week, and was closely followed by King’s College Hospital NHS trust has an average of 824 absences.

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Professor Stephen Powis, NHS national medical director, said: “The NHS is on a war footing and staff are taking the fight to Omicron, by boosting hundreds of thousands of people each day, treating thousands of seriously ill patients and delivering urgent care for other conditions, all while seeing a worrying, high and rising increase in absence due to Covid-19.

“We are once again ramping up to deal with the rise in Covid-19 infections, and quite rightly staff are making every possible preparation for the uncertain challenges of Omicron, including recruiting thousands of nurses and reservists.

“While we’ll leave no stone unturned to get the NHS battle ready, it remains the case that the best way to protect yourself and others is to follow guidance and to come forward and get your first, second and booster jabs.”

Across England and Wales, the total days lost due to Covid-19 staff absences increased by 38% from 90,277 to 124,855 in the week ending December 19 compared to the week before.

While the number of total staff absences increased by 10% from 416,995 to 457,135.