Nurse absence concerns amid latest spike in Covid-19 cases – Nursing Times

‘This is a situation that cannot go on indefinitely’
12 July, 2022 By
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The sharp spike in Covid-19 cases has made a “dire” staffing situation “even worse”, nurse leaders have warned.
This comes after the Office of National Statistics (ONS) Coronavirus Infection Survey found that all UK counties have seen an increase in the number of Covid-19 infections in the general population.
“Nursing is really worried about the impact of the sharp spike in Covid-19 cases on health and care services”
Patricia Marquis
The survey found one in 25 people in England were testing positive in the week ending 29 June 2022, compared to one in 30 the week before.
For the same week, one in 19 people in Northern Ireland were estimated to have tested positive, compared to one in 25 the week before.
Meanwhile, in the week ending 30 June 2022, one in 20 people in Wales tested positive compared to one in 30 the week prior.
Scotland saw a slight increase that same week, with one in 17 people testing positive compared to one in 18 the week before.
Health leaders have warned that this spike will impact healthcare staff, including nurses.
Royal College of Nursing director for England, Patricia Marquis, said: “Nursing is really worried about the impact of the sharp spike in Covid-19 cases on health and care services.
“Increasing numbers of staff are going off sick with Covid-19, making the already dire staffing situation even worse and reducing yet further the quality of care they are able to deliver.”
Ms Marquis argued that individual trusts should not have to take matters into their own hands to reintroduce facemasks.
She said: “Government must re-introduce facemasks for all staff and visitors in health and care settings and encourage patients to do likewise wherever possible.
“Visitors need to be strict on not coming into hospitals when they are unwell or have had a positive lateral flow test.”
Ms Marquis stressed that all staff caring for suspected or positive Covid-19 patients must have access to high-grade personal protective equipment to help limit the spread and impact of the disease.
ONS statistics showed that the overall hospital admission rate of Covid-19-confirmed patients in England increased to 14.59 per 100,000 people in the week ending 3 July 2022.
“Cases going up also means that staff sickness and absences are increasing”
Layla McCay
Admission rates to intensive care units and high dependency units increased slightly in the same period but remained low at 0.39 per 100,000 people.
Dr Layla McCay, director of policy at the NHS Confederation, warned that the rise in hospitalisations and community cases was of “real concern” to NHS leaders.
She added: “Cases going up also means that staff sickness and absences are increasing at a time when the NHS is already plagued by chronic staff shortages and carrying 105,000 vacancies.
“As the health service works to make continuing inroads into the elective care backlog with 6.5m patients now awaiting treatment, we need an honest and realistic conversation about what the public can expect from the NHS especially during Covid waves that disrupt its services.
“As we look ahead and prepare for a very difficult winter where high levels of flu and an autumn surge of Covid are now very likely, we must acknowledge that the NHS is already strained, under-staffed and under-pressure.”
The latest warnings over staff absences come after high rates of health and care staff sickness intensified pressures in previous waves of the pandemic.
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