The NHS workers had more sick days than average workers, even before the pandemic. Official figures reveal that stress, anxiety, and depression were responsible for three-quarters of all absentees.

Health service data shows there were 17.7million days of leave taken between April 2018 and March 2019 – the equivalent of around 14 days per worker – mainly for mental health problems or muscle and back pain. 

According to the Office for National Statistics, the average Briton flew for 4.2 days in the same time period.

At the outbreak of the pandemic, England’s NHS was absent at its peak. The number of sick days in England rose to the top among support staff. Doctors were far behind. One in ten NHS employees are now sick or isolated – some hospitals however have higher rates.

MailOnline can also reveal that staff working at the NHS trusts currently cancelling all non-urgent operations and appointments due to Omicron are still allowing employees to go on holiday while on a ‘war footing’, according to Boris Johnson.

Both the Great Western NHS Foundation Trust Trust and United Lincolnshire NHS Trust admit that there is no ban on annual leaves, despite declaring “critical incidents”.

Two days prior to the Gloucestershire Hospitals NHS Trust declaring a critical incident on Boxing Day 2018, only four staff members of their 7,400 were recorded as being off sick with Covid, or self-isolating. This is according to NHS England’s most recent data. But a further 312 staff were not at work due with other illnesses such as common winter bugs and stress.

One in 137 hospitals trusts across England has declared “critical incidents” in recent days. It means that the hospital may not be able to offer vital care in coming weeks due to so many medical staff being away isolating. 17 hospitals within Greater Manchester also have begun shelving.

The number of Covid infected patients admitted to hospital is also on the rise.

NHS staff take three times as much time off sick as office workers with the peak at the start of the pandemic, which has not been reached since then

With the peak in the outbreak, the NHS workers took three times the time to get sick than office workers. This is a difference that hasn’t been seen since.

MailOnline can also reveal that staff working at the NHS trusts currently cancelling all non-urgent operations and appointments due to Omicron are still allowing staff to go on holiday

MailOnline also revealed that Omicron is allowing NHS staff to travel while they cancel all other non-urgent procedures and appointments.

Mental health illnesses accounted for the most sick days followed by muscle and back problems

After back and muscle problems, mental illness was the leading cause of death.

The NHS Digital data suggests that there are approximately 1.2 million staff who work for England’s health system. In the 12 months to March 2020 they took off 19.6 million days, and there were 21.2million missing days in the twelve months to March 2021.

England’s critical NHS Trusts


Boxing Day for All Sicknesses 316

Boxing Day for Covid-related absences 70 

Holiday banNo


Boxing Day: 643

Boxing Day for Covid-related absences 150 

Holiday ban No


Boxing Day: 150

Boxing Day for Covid-related absences 47 

Holiday banStill to be answered 


Boxing Day: 772

Absences related to Covid: 340 

Holiday banStill to be answered


Boxing Day: 584

Boxing Day for Covid-related absences 171 

Holiday banStill to be answered


Boxing Day: 552

Boxing Day for Covid-related absences 127 

Holiday banStill to be answered 


Boxing Day: 312

Boxing Day for Covid-related absences 4  

Holiday banStill to be answered

Separate statistics show around 1.4million people currently work for the health service, suggesting the average number of sick days would be slightly lower – but still much higher than the national average.

Nearly a third of missed days among health staff in the most recent year were down to mental health problems — including anxiety, stress and depression.

NHS chiefs warned staff that the back-to-back Covid waves put pressure on them and could cause harm to their health.

Around nine percent of the days were lost due to musculoskeletal issues, including nerve, joint, and muscle pain.

One out of 16 absences was due to stomach issues, with infectious diseases, back problems, colds, and flu all accounting for around 5%.

They include clinical personnel such as physicians, nurses, ambulance staff and support staff. These figures also encompass non-working days. 

At least 7 trusts managing more than one dozen hospitals in the country have been declared critical. But their own sickness data indicates that most of their workers who are absent for Christmas have not contracted Covid-related illnesses. 

NHS England data show that the majority of nurses, doctors and other staff in the UK do not have coronavirus.

Boxing Day 2021 was a day when 68.082 NHS workers in England went home sick. But 24,632 people were absent because of a positive Covid or need to self-isolate.

But on the same day in 2020, 80,592 NHS staff in England were off sick – with 32,613 of those people off with Covid-related absence. 

Even worse was the predicament at the outbreak of the pandemic. 105,000 NHS staff are already sick. 81,000 NHS workers have been forced or co-opted into quarantine.     

One-tenth of NHS staff is off sick, or are self-isolating. Although some hospitals may have lower rates than others, it is estimated that Covid accounts for five out of ten absentees.

Bosses claim the shortages are making it ‘almost impossible’ to maintain basic patient care.

Yesterday an ambulance trust requested that patients suffering from heart attacks or strokes be given a lift to hospital. The Trust did not have sufficient paramedics.

The North East Ambulance Service Foundation Trust said call handlers should ‘consider asking the patient to be transported by friends or family’.

A message to staff said they were also having to ferry patients to hospital in taxis due to ‘unprecedented demand’.

Hospital trusts have declared ‘critical incidents’, which means routine patient care is suffering and staff are being redeployed.

Plymouth’s Derriford Hospital had nearly 500 staff absent due to Covid. Morecambe bay NHS Trust in Lancashire has declared an emergency because of the high number of coronavirus-positive staff. 

Dr Sakthi Karunanithi, public health director for the region, said: ‘We are bracing ourselves for a tsunami of Omicron cases in Lancashire.’ 

Matthew Taylor, chief executive of the NHS Confederation, said the staffing situation meant it was ‘becoming almost impossible’ to deal with ‘the most urgent and pressing needs’.

He told Times Radio that ‘the most pressing element of all’ is the number of staff who are absent due to the virus, rather than the number of Covid patients needing treatment.

Staff at the NHS have stated that they are unable to obtain lateral flow tests. This is despite some staff being unable to work, despite having not tested positive for covid. It was disclosed today that hospitals routinely cancel appointments due to Omicron.

NHS chiefs support cutting the self-isolation time to FIVE days in case of staffing crisis. 

An NHS leader today revealed he would support slashing Covid self-isolation to five days amid an escalating staffing crisis that has engulfed hospitals and led some to cancel routine operations. 

Matthew Taylor, head of the NHS Confederation — an organisation which represents trusts, said two more days should be shaved off the period as long as it was backed up by the science.

According to him, the staff situation is ‘desperate’. Any way to get them back on their feet was a good thing. However, he stated that having infectious staff returning to their wards would only exacerbate Omicron.

Ministers reduced self-isolation to seven days in December, provided someone tests negative with lateral flow days 6 through 7. Boris Johnson must now follow suit after the US has reduced quarantine to just five days for people without symptoms.

At the moment, an estimated 1.3 million Britons live in house arrest. The NHS, railway services, and bin collections are all weakened by the absence of staff.

On average, 1 in 10 NHS staff are self-isolating or off sick. Mr Johnson announced yesterday that plans were being made to call in the Army to help if things get worse.

Royal College of Nursing, British Medical Association, and Royal College of Nursing urged government officials to place health workers at the top of the list for fast tests in order to alleviate staffing shortages.

One in ten NHS staff is currently sick or isolating. Individual hospitals have higher absent rates. But, the NHS cannot break down absence by reason. This means that many might be suffering from other ailments, such as stress.

The Government has taken down the website of LFTs today. This means that at least half of England’s NHS trusts have said they may not be in a position to offer vital care. Nurses and doctors say they are trying to find tests online because it is easier than for millions of Britons. 

Due to the shortages of supplies over Christmas, pharmacies claim it may take up to two weeks to get replacement kits. This is because the pharmacy that was responsible for distribution has been shut down for the holiday period for only four days.

Doctors at hospitals, doctors and nurses caring for patients with cancer have said that their patient has covid. But they can’t get enough lateral flow test to confirm if the other person is infected.

The problem has been made worse by the inaccessibility of PCR testing, which is not available to NHS staff.

LFTs can be obtained from doctors and nurses at work, provided they have the necessary documentation. However, some trusts may require on-site testing. But all UK citizens must follow the same procedure.

One medic tweeted last night: ‘9 hospitals have now declared critical incidents and NHS staff are still wearing surgical masks and can’t get hold of lateral flow tests. It’s a perfect storm. A s**t storm’. Another tweeted: ‘Current policy in my trust is if you have been near someone who has tested positive, you must lateral flow for 10 days & isolate from other staff on breaks. There are 7 available lateral flow tests, but none nearby. Boris Johnson, can you help?’.

One GP said: @sajidjavid Education secretary has 31 million lateral flow testing for schools. I’m a GP. Our staff and I can’t get any. If we can’t test we can’t work safely. Staff of the NHS need immediate access to supplies for lateral flow tests. 

Pharmacies have run out of tests and say it could be weeks, not days, until they got more

The pharmacies that have exhausted their testing resources say they may not be able to get more for weeks.

Today, again, there were no lateral flow tests available on the Government's website, which NHS staff also have to use

Today’s lateral flow tests were not available online by the Government. This is a problem that NHS staff must also use.

Doctors, nurses and NHS staff have said that they cannot get hold of the tests they need

Doctors, nurses and NHS staff have said that they cannot get hold of the tests they need

Doctors, nurses, and NHS staff claim that they are unable to obtain the necessary tests. 

Record 3.3MILLION people — one in 15 — had Covid on New Year’s Eve in England, official data shows but infections WERE slowing in Omicron hotspot London 

More than 3million people had Covid on New Years Eve in England — the equivalent of one in 15 — the country’s gold-standard surveillance study has found.

On December 31st, the Office for National Statistics (ONS), estimated that a record number of 3.27million people were infected. That’s an increase of more than 60 percent.  

Before the emergence of Omicron, that figure rarely rose above 1million, but the ultra-infectious variant has pushed the country’s infection rate to astronomical levels. 

However, the super-mild strain caused a wide disparity in cases, hospitalisations, and deaths. Admissions are still at a third of their previous peak levels, and fatalities are 10 times higher. 

Surprisingly, one in ten Londoners had Covid as of New Year’s Eve. But they claimed that there were early signs suggesting infections in London. The capital was the worst affected by the fourth wave. 

Because it relies on random sampling from around 100,000 individuals rather than people coming forward for testing, the ONS weekly infection survey has been deemed the best indicator of an outbreak.  

The report — relied on by ministers to guide Covid policy — is normally published on Fridays, but its release has been moved forward to Wednesdays while infections run at unprecedented levels.

Today’s findings show that around one in 20 people had the virus by New Year’s Eve in Wales and Scotland, both up from one in 40. Northern Ireland’s prevalence of the virus has increased from one to 40 to one-in-25. 

Boris Johnson, the Government’s chief service provider, promised 100,000 workers that they would send lateral flow tests every day to ensure key services are protected. But not to his 1million plus NHS staff.

Next week, the samples will be sent to food processing personnel, border force officers, and air traffic controllers.

Boris Johnson said the Government was ‘acting to protect critical national services, keep supply chains open and fortify our NHS to withstand the pressures ahead’.

‘We’ve identified 100,000 critical workers in areas from food processing to transport to our border force,’ the Prime Minister said. ‘And from January 10 we’ll be rolling out lateral flow testing for all these workers.’

Ministers believe the tests will prevent workers from self-isolating and help to stop outbreaks.

The Daily Telegraph reports that the rules for covid testing will be relaxed in order to reduce isolation times.

People with lateral flows that are positive but do not show symptoms may be advised they don’t require a followup PCR test. The self-isolation time can therefore be shorter by a few days. 

The abuse is coming from angry customers, who have not been able to access free lateral flow test kits for their pharmacies. A health chief said that this has led to a surge in harassment of pharmacy staff.

Some Britons say they were unable to obtain lateral flow testing at their local pharmacy for as long as ‘two weeks’ because of a shortage.

This issue is thought to have arisen from distribution issues in the Government’s Free Testing Programme. People can no longer order their tests online at different points.

Some pharmacies are also required to display signs warning that there will be no free test.

Employers are being warned by pharmacy managers that supplies are still ‘patchy’. Customers who cannot pick up test kits are also being advised to avoid abusive and unfair behavior. 

MailOnline spoke with Dr Leyla Hanbeck, chief executive of the Association of Independent Multiple Pharmacies. She said that until yesterday there was still a patchy supply of medicines. In the last few days, this situation hasn’t improved.  

Due to this unfair circumstance, ‘Pharmacies must endure much abuse from members of the general public and other aggressive behaviors.

“The demand for testing is very high because of the government guidelines which put emphasis on self-isolation. So naturally Omicron cases high, people rely on tests to continue with their daily lives.

Hannbeck maintains, however, that pharmacists still have the right place to provide lateral flow testing.