The quality of care being given by the NHS is being compromised, one health leader has warned, cautioning that the country is “far from out of the woods”.
The health service has faced intense pressure due to high rates of COVID and the threat of Omicron, which has led to both hospital admissions and staff absences increasing.
Matthew Taylor, chief executive of the NHS Confederation, warned against “wishful thinking” about how soon it will be until the threat of the new variant subsides.
Mr Taylor said while the national data “offers some hope” the UK should “be under no illusions that this pressure has evaporated, including in London”.
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The UK has recorded 335 coronavirus-related deaths and a further 109,133 cases in the latest 24-hour period, according to government data.
“One leader of an NHS trust in the north told me that they felt they were at least a week away from their peak, while more than one in 10 of their staff were absent,” he said.
“On top of that, they have medically fit patients stuck in hospital beds because the pandemic has decimated capacity in social care.
“We may be at the end of the beginning of this wave, but we are far from out of the woods.
“NHS leaders are doing everything they can to keep their services running, but they are being put in a worrying situation where the quality of care their teams are able to provide is at times being compromised.”
He said the country needs honesty “about how quickly the NHS can bounce back” one the Omicron variant does subside.
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He added: “Decisions about what living with COVID-19 will mean must be driven by realism and not by wishful thinking and impatience about how soon the threat and legacy of this strain will disappear.”
His warning comes as the health secretary announced the isolation period in England for those who test positive for the COVID will be cut from seven days to five.