Paramedics today warned that the NHS is facing a staffing shortage due to Omicron. 

Sheffield paramedic claimed that it took 24-hours for teams to reach burns victims or pain sufferers with “urgent” injuries. The NHS aims to attend category three calls — the name for these types of calls — within two hours. 

The service was regarded as ‘completely broke’ by the company, and it is no longer available for emergency situations. They also stated that very few calls came from patients who don’t require medical attention.

Chris Hopson, chief executive of NHS Providers — which represents ambulance trusts, admitted today that a high level of staff absences meant ‘significant numbers’ of ambulances were out of use.

And GPs warned of ‘massive problems’ while NHS bosses in Scotland — where the Army has already being drafted in to help struggling wards — say a wave of cases could force them to ration care to just the sickest patients. 

This comes just as the NHS has shifted to a “war footing” and constructed eight mini-Nightingale wards in carparks of staff in preparation for an anticipated surge in patient numbers.

Each unit will be capable of treating up to 100 Covid victims. There are questions about how these hospitals will staff, as the NHS had already been short of over 100,000 workers prior to the pandemic.

Mr Hopson addressed the issue, saying: “You cannot just create the right number of people to staff these beds from thin air.” Pat Cullen of the Royal College of Nursing stated that she did not know the details of how the hubs will be managed.

Omicron is leaving the NHS in a crisis of staffing, with many people being forced to leave the NHS because they are unable to work due the virus.

WILLIAM HARVEY HOSPITAL IN ASHFORD, KENT: Pictured above is construction work beginning on the William Harvey 'mini-Nightingale' hospital, situated in the site's car park

WILLIAM HARVEY HOSPTAL, ASHFORD KENT: Above is construction on William Harvey’mini Nightingale’ hospital. This building can be viewed from the parking lot.

Pictured above is an ambulance outside the Royal London hospital. Fewer ambulances are on the road because of staffing shortages, and many are also still stuck queuing outside A&E departments trying to offload patients

Above is an ambulance seen outside Royal London Hospital. Fewer ambulances are on the road because of staffing shortages, and many are also still stuck queuing outside A&E departments trying to offload patients

The above shows where England's eight new 'mini-Nightingales' will be set up. These will aim to treat 100 Covid patients following a stay in intensive care, and will be on hospital sites to ensure they can be properly manned. Previous Nightingales could not get enough nurses

This image shows the location of England’s 8 new mini-Nightingales. They will treat 100 Covid patients after a stay in intensive. The previous Nightingales couldn’t get enough nurses

ST GEORGE'S HOSPITAL, SOUTH LONDON: Construction workers began erecting a temporary field hospital in the grounds of St George's Hospital in Tooting today

ST GEORGE’S HOTEL, SOUTH LOON: Today’s construction workers started erecting a temporary hospital on the grounds of St George’s Hospital.

Ambulance response times to category 2 calls - patients suffering strokes or heart attacks - surged in October but dropped again in November. They remain far above the 18 minute target however

Response times for category 2 ambulance calls (patients suffering from strokes or heart attacks) increased dramatically in October, but then dropped once again in November. However, they remain well above the target of 18 minutes.

It comes as NHS Covid hospitalisations also began to creep upwards amid the rapid spread of the Omicron Covid variant

The rapid growth of Omicron Covid has also seen NHS Covid hospitalisations rise.

Ministers reduced self-isolation to just seven days for staff who test positive on at least two 24 hour apart lateral flow samples. They are being asked to reduce this time to five days to match the US to allow staff to return to work faster. 

Hopson explained that “If patient absences and quality of care rise, the pressure for an increase in isolation periods will undoubtedly rise.”

Jack Grehan (a Sheffield paramedic) wrote the following on Twitter:[Ambulance]The land has been completely demolished.

The number of Covid hospitals in England nearly doubles every week 

The number of Covid Hospitalisations in England has nearly doubled over a week, to levels never seen since the second tsunami. 

Dec 28 saw 2,082 infected people be admitted to hospital. That’s almost 90 percent more than the previous week. This was the highest number of patients admitted to wards since February according to government data. 

Experts warn against interpreting hospital numbers in light of Omicron’s rapid spread, as patients now have milder symptoms than ever before.

Official data shows that the numbers of Covid-infected patients remain stable. This highlights the fact that the situation is very different from ever.

NHS England data also showed hospitalisations in London — the epicentre of the UK’s Omicron crisis — increased yet again, with 456 newly-infected patients placed on wards on December 28. It was almost 50% higher than the previous week.

The capital’s admissions per day have now risen by two consecutive days to 400, a level that was warned by Government officials could result in nationwide intervention. 

Statistics examining intensive care wards show a very different picture. Only 232 patients are currently connected to ventilators. Although rates are increasing slower, they still represent a fifth of what was seen in January as a result of the Alpha wave. 

We are not an emergency service anymore. “We are making Category 2 calls [people suffering a stroke or chest pain]Category 2’s are almost three hours and quarters old, while Category 3’s take nearly 24 hours. 

“I’d add that many of my jobs are for people who have been unwell or require urgent medical attention that they can’t access through any other avenues.

There are very few jobs that make you wonder why you’re even alive. 

Hopson said that absences from work due to Covid are ‘clearly now being a significant effect’ in the NHS, as well as other businesses such as hospitality.

He added: ‘NHS experience suggests that the impact varies considerably depending on how many staff are isolating, driven by local community infection rates; ability to rapidly source temporary replacement staff; and ability to flex existing staff to cover work of those who are absent.

“Example: Some NHS CEOs have stated that current staff absences mean significant numbers (are) of ambulances off the road. Given the importance of having appropriately trained staff, this is a concern. 

Patients are still being discharged by ambulances in certain parts of the country, even though they have to wait for up to seven hours at a time outside some hospitals. 

Unison’s Shane Clark told BBC that ambulances in South West had no light at the end for the next two-month. 

“When you are waiting for a patient to arrive in an ambulance, whether it’s four, five or six hours and if they’re there for seven, it’s really, really hard,” he stated.

“I don’t belong to the ambulance service because of this. Members didn’t sign up for it for that reason. Our mission is to deliver the highest standard care.”

Professor Martin Marshall, chairman of Royal College of GPs said that Omicron continues to spread like wildfire and cause’massive difficulties’ in doctors’ offices.

Times Radio interviewed him to explain that the practice was under pressure due to increasing numbers of employees having to be self-isolated and the increased challenges associated with the vaccination program.

Professor Marshall is a doctor in East London who said that “Covid” continues to spread like wildfire, which has huge implications for the overall health system.

He stated, “What are we seeing? More and more patients we’re treating in general practise, we’re also advising with Covid symptoms.

“We see an increased number of staff being forced to isolate themselves and work from home, if that is possible. Or they are simply unable to contribute. That’s placing pressure on other members of the staff.

The latest figures revealed that Covid absentees rose almost 50% in NHS during the past three weeks. They shot up from 12,500 and 18,800 respectively. The total absences rose from 65,000 to 64,000, according to the latest figures.   

Alarming signs are rising about the NHS situation in Scotland. There is a growing number of cases and absences that threaten to make hospitals unfit to offer ‘urgent care only’.

Dr Lewis Morrison, the chair of the British Medical Association in Scotland, said that without ‘big changes’ in either infection levels or the rules on self-isolation, the health service could find itself in such a situation. 

As the NHS moves on to a ‘war footing,’ nightingale wards will be erected within hospital carparks. 

As construction workers started to erect eight makeshift sites, they warned that NHS staff cannot be’magic-up’ in order to supervise temporary ‘Nightingale” wards located within hospital car parks.

Last night, the NHS announced that eight hospitals across England would begin building temporary structures for up to 100 Covid-insured patients. The work has begun at St George’s Hospital, South London, and William Harvey Hospital Ashford in Kent.

The overspill sites — which could also be erected in canteens and gyms if needed in the coming weeks — will be equipped with beds and machines for patients who still need minor treatment.

It is part of the new NHS ‘war footing,’ which aims to address Omicron waves that are putting increasing pressure on hospitals.

However, questions remain about how these units will be managed in the face of spiralling absence rates within the health system and the 100,000+ vacancies that existed before Covid was struck.

Chris Hopson, chief executive of NHS Providers — which represents hospital trusts — said staffing the makeshift wards posed a ‘major challenge’ and that ‘you can’t just magic up the number of staff that are needed to staff these beds out of thin air’.

He said, however that having facilities on the existing hospital grounds “maximises NHS’s ability [to meet that challenge]” and that volunteers are expected to be called in to use the locations if necessary.

Health Secretary Humza Yousaf refused to rule out the need for field hospitals — as the NHS in England started setting up new Nightingale ‘surge hubs’ at hospitals. 

Dr Morrison discussed the negative impact of large staff isolation on services. He said: “If you arrive at work and find that you are missing your colleagues, there’s more work to be done.”

However, he said to BBC Radio Scotland that there was more to it than just going to work. He didn’t know how many people he’d be working with. The Christmas weekend was hard for me because I had two coworkers who were self-isolating. One of them went in knowing the rest and the other one was sent home as a result of a test positive by someone they shared sex with.

“It is that anxiety people feel when they do not know what work will be needed and how long they have to work before going back to work.

“That’s because we’ve been dealing with the pandemic for so long, and people have become pretty wiped out.”

He spoke out about the continuing impact of the pandemic upon the NHS and said: “When you put the system under stress, it is essential to plan for the ability to close down less important things and to redeploy people into the most critical things. Urgent care, front-door hospitals, are all examples of this.

“The problem is that you have to make it happen quickly and people expect that this will result in some aspects of their healthcare being delayed yet again. Nobody wants that.”

He said, “I think in the coming weeks we will have to find us in a position where we support only urgent healthcare services, except if there is a significant change in either numbers or rules. 

Each of England’s eight “mini-Nightingales” will have a scattered presence across the country. There are sites in London and Bristol as well as Leeds, Kent, Leicester, Leeds, Kent, and Leicester.

In contrast to the first wave — when facilities such as London’s ExCel centre were converted into giant hospitals — the ‘Nightingale hubs’ will be situated on existing hospital grounds.

According to health chiefs, this will allow them to quickly deploy personnel if they experience an increase in admissions that exceeds their current capacity.

NHS Trusts were also asked to determine areas, such as classrooms or gyms that could be transformed into temporary Covid Wards.

They said this could create an additional 4,000 ‘super surge’ beds across the country — eight times the capacity of a large district hospital, which has around 500 beds.

Hopson explained that, “Building upon lessons learned from the earlier pandemics,” trusts identified additional capacity at hospital sites and could turn it into super surge capacity if necessary.

ST GEORGE'S HOSPITAL, SOUTH LONDON: One member of a construction team was pictured working on the roofing of the make-shift site

ST GEORGE’S HOSPITAL SOUTH LONDON: A member of a team of construction workers was pictured working to the roof of the temporary site. 

WILLIAM HARVEY HOSPITAL IN ASHFORD, KENT A view of the make-shift Nightingale site set-up in a car park on the grounds of the William Harvey

WILLIAM HARVEY HOSPITAL IN ASHFORD KENT View of the Nightingale-style site that was built in a nearby carpark.

“Trust leaders are hopeful that this backup insurance policy won’t be necessary, just like with the Nightingales. However, it is important to take the right decision now and not regret later.

“Given other pressures on NHS staff and current staff absentees, it would prove difficult to staff this capacity.

“But colocation at existing hospitals sites maximizes the NHS’s capacity to meet this challenge.”

He also stated that he recognized the fact that it would add to an already stretched NHS.

In a follow-up interview with The Telegraph , he added: ‘I think there’s a very clear recognition in the NHS that you can’t just magic up the number of staff that are needed to staff these beds out of thin air.’

MailOnline was informed by him that the NHS could use these hubs to provide emergency services, and that they would employ an emergency staffing model.

“We might, for example be moving staff from less crucial activity. To do this, we’d be looking for retired personnel and skilled volunteers.