A total of 39,142 NHS employees in hospital trusts in England were absent on 2nd new numbers from NHS England.
The total includes employees who were sick with the coronavirus or who had to self-isolate.
In northwest England, 7,338 NHS workers were absent from hospital trusts on the 2nd, the figure a week earlier (4,179).
In London, absenteeism increased 4% from 4,580 to 4,765 on a weekly basis.
Dr. Chaand Nagpaul, Chairman of the Council of the British Medical Association (BMA), told Sky News, “We have never seen such absences before,” adding, “Of course the NHS has extra pressure every winter, but I don’t think so.” Everyone who has worked in the NHS has experienced this level of absence from their colleagues, and we are feeling it in very real time, because doctors, nurses and healthcare workers have to pay for their absent colleagues – that means extra, extraordinary stress. “
He said even though Omicron was milder, people were still getting seriously ill with Covid-19 and hospitals were grappling with the NHS treatment backlog with nearly six million people on the waiting list.
When asked how close the NHS is to being overwhelmed, he said, “I think the words seem overwhelming, I mean I think we should just look at the reality.
“The reality that the army has been drafted into London, the reality of 24 hospitals reporting critical incidents, the reality that some hospitals have to cancel all their routine operations, the reality that GPs have to cancel clinics that day.
“I’m a family doctor, I’ve never seen it so bad. We literally have to contact patients without notice if the staff member or a doctor or nurse is simply not there today because they are self-isolating.
“This is not normal and so the government must recognize that this is clearly an NHS under extreme pressure and the sad reality for thousands of patients is that they are suffering the consequences of such pressure and also the lack of staff. “
London will get support from the armed forces to cope with high health worker absenteeism, but there are “encouraging” signs that the city is emerging from the Omicron wave, according to a minister.
London Minister Paul Scully told LBC when asked if Omicron foreseen the easing in the capital: “I think the trend looks encouraging at the moment, but we clearly need to be on our guard as the NHS is still under Pressure is in London.
“It’s not just about the number of cases – there is a clear distinction between the number of cases and hospital admissions – but you also have larger absences due to the increased testing and increased awareness of people and that obviously puts additional pressure on the NHS and other public services out.”
Mr Scully said the military personnel deployed in the capital would be a “mix of medics, porters and things like that” to assist hospitals but said he had no details on where they would help.
He added, “What we also have is a digital ID card for the NHS that allows staff to move between hospitals.
Air Commodore John Lyle told BBC Breakfast that the military are still discussing further support for the NHS in other parts of the country.
“We can’t really predict too far, but during this current surge we certainly know that London is particularly difficult right now, but we are aware that this is having an impact across the UK,” he said.
“So we stay in talks and there are a number of areas where we are looking at the potential for more support.
“I think we will learn a lot from the progress made in London in the coming weeks or months and further military support may be needed in other areas.”
He said troops had “a long history of assisting all government departments, particularly the NHS, over the past two years,” adding, “This is nothing new.
“Today’s announcement of support to London’s hospitals is just part of a larger picture of helping more than 1,800 people across the UK, members of all three armed forces – both regular and reservists – providing support in areas such as Booster program … to support emergency services and of course also in hospitals. “