The Workers Union is urging NHS administrators and government to ‘address the issue of NHS staff shortages, now.’
In a statement released this morning, the organisation said that the current situation could see millions of patients suffer worsening quality of care, as NHS staff struggle with a perfect storm of COVID-19 cases and sickness absence.
A spokesperson for The Workers Union said: ‘We are very aware of the selfless bravery and commitment that those who work in the health service continue to display in these testing times. But despite their heroic efforts, workers cannot be expected to keep going to the well. At some point, they will have to stop. Whether that point is a direct consequence of COVID, or sheer fatigue is immaterial. From the point of view of patients, it still means pressure on the staff to beds ratio, longer waits and cancelled appointments.
‘The British government has presided over one of the best vaccination roll-out programmes in the world. Now politicians must turn their attention to brokering solutions that relieve the pressure on our hard-pressed health service.’
The Workers Union’s statement came after the NHS Confederation sounded a warning about the state of play in healthcare settings up and down the country. As well as painting a picture of a service struggling to cope with current demands, the Confederation suggested that allowing the deployment of medical students could help fill empty staff rosters. They also urged an immediate cut to the current self-isolation period for NHS workers from 10 days to 5.
The NHS Confederation’s comments come at a time when more than 20 NHS trusts are registering an “internal critical incident” as they struggle to deal with COVID and additional winter pressures.
The Workers Union Says
According to current reports, NHS staff absences are double the usual number for this time of year. It doesn’t take a genius to work out that this is far from ideal in any period – never mind the middle of a pandemic. That notwithstanding, we must not skulk in the shadows and let Omicron rule the way that we live and work. To generate enough escape velocity, we’re going to have to redouble our efforts to invest in those institutions that allow us the freedom to go about our daily lives without hinderance.
The NHS is one such institution. It needs the same approach that saw the comprehensive vaccination programme developed in a matter of months. It requires the government – who have performed more than creditably in balancing economic priorities with the health of the nation – to work alongside health chiefs to deliver workable solutions to the staffing crisis.
But it’s also beholden on all of us to take personal responsibility for what we do to help. That means wearing masks where required to do so and following government guidelines.