Today’s staff crisis was caused by Covid workers being forced to isolate themselves with the hospital. Hospital bosses had to scramble to make up for these gaps, and some parts of travel industry ground to a standstill.
There were 18,829 NHS acute staff absent from their trusts due to coronavirus on December 19. This is an increase of 12,240 the week prior.
The NHS is already under pressure from this increase in staff who call in sick and are isolated every day.
After yesterday’s cancellation of flights, domestic travel was severely affected by the illness.
West Midlands Railways stated that this morning, services between Leamington Spa and Nuneaton were suspended indefinitely.
According to a spokesperson, the Coronavirus and Omicron pandemics had significant impacts on our workforce. This means that more colleagues have been forced to isolate themselves.
‘Whilst we make every effort to run the planned train service, we need to let you know that in December, we will be making changes to services between Leamington Spa – Nuneaton via Coventry. It will continue to be serviced by a rail replacement bus, until further notice.
Thousands of travellers saw Christmas plans ruined after Covid chaos triggered a wave of flight cancellations.
Heathrow witnessed chaotic scenes over the weekend when Covid staff shortages hit.
There have been a few staff absents due to Covid illness. This has also affected the NHS.
The chaos during one of the busiest travel week of the year was attributed to staff shortages due to coronavirus disease and isolation requirements.
British Airways was yesterday forced to cancel 50 flights at Heathrow, the UK’s busiest airport.
Travellers also complained of ‘utter carnage’ at Manchester Airport as they queued for hours to check in for the British flag carrier’s flights.
Over the weekend of Christmas, more than 71,000 flights around the world were cancelled. The most affected airlines are US and Chinese.
China Eastern cancelled more than 400 flights yesterday, and Air China ended 193 service cancellations. Yesterday’s cancellations of more than 2000 flights across the globe were in addition to the 5,100 cancelations on Christmas Eve/Christmas Day.
According to FlightAware, 33 Heathrow flights were cancelled and 25 others delayed yesterday.
Another 29 flights, which were scheduled to arrive at the airport, were also cancelled. 28 other incoming flights were delayed.
In the lead-up to Christmas, airlines were bullish and stated that the Omicron variant spreading across the UK had not had an impact on their services.
Over the weekend of Christmas, more than 7,000 flights around the world were cancelled. The most affected airlines were US and Chinese.
Despite the problems, the UK’s busiest airports have been operating fairly smoothly, with demand lower than usual for the festive period because of Covid restrictions. EasyJet has cancelled all flights from Munich to Berlin, Bordeaux and Paris, and Nice, France, after France and Germany introduced stricter entry requirements.
To ensure its flight operations continue, the airline stated that it has increased standby crew numbers and European pilots.
Gatwick, the UK’s second-busiest airport, said that it had only had three cancellations out of 215 flights yesterday. Coronavirus is the main cause of many cancellations worldwide, but severe weather conditions in the USA has also been blamed.
Meanwhile in the stretched NHS, London was the worst hit, with Covid absence at St Barts Trust surging from 91 to 338 within seven days as doctors and nurses caught Covid or had to isolate.
Alistair Chesser, medical director of the St Barts NHS Trust said: ‘We have plans in place to redeploy staff in the coming weeks should we need to.’
Meanwhile London’s Imperial College Hospital has an absence rate of nearly 7 per cent and chief executive Professor Tim Orchard said: ‘We are having to ask some staff to move to support areas especially challenged.’
Staff sickness at Sheffield Teaching Hospitals increased by 421 to 699 in seven days. Bosses warned they lagged ‘about 10 days behind London’.
Responding to the latest figures Patricia Marquis, Royal College of Nursing Director for England, said: ‘Hospitals that were already short-staffed can ill-afford for soaring numbers to be away from work.
‘There is much more that hospital trusts and other employers can do to keep nursing and other staff protected from workplace infection, especially those caring for suspected or known patients with COVID-19.
‘Faced with growing staffing shortages and rising patient numbers in the coming days and weeks, difficult decisions will need to be made but we will not support any measures we consider to be detrimental to patient or professional safety.’