Lib Dems: Call COBR meeting to address NHS covid staff crisis

The Liberal Democrats have demanded that Boris Johnson call an urgent COBR meeting to discuss measures to address the NHS Covid staffing crisis, as figures reveal a 31% rise over a week in Covid-related absences among NHS staff.

The latest NHS figures reveal 24,632 NHS staff at hospital trusts in England were off for Covid-related reasons on 26 December, up almost a third from 18,829 the previous week.

It comes as the chief executive of NHS Providers Chris Hopson warned this morning that the NHS does not currently have enough staff to run “surge hubs” being set up to treat Covid patients outside hospitals and that an “emergency staffing model” will be needed.

Liberal Democrat Health Spokesperson, Daisy Cooper MP, said: “Today’s figures confirm the worst: hospital and ambulance services are stretched to breaking point under the weight of devastating Covid staff absences, just as the Government was warned.

Daisy Cooper MP

“The failure of Ministers to act on these warnings means that hospitals are now creating surge hubs without having the staff to man them, whilst the government is relying on a testing regime to control the virus without any tests.

“It really is now or never for the Government to get a handle on a crisis that is quickly spiralling beyond their control. Boris Johnson must call a COBR meeting without delay to thrash out a comprehensive rescue plan.

“People will be rightly angry with Johnson’s Government if they try to access urgent care or advice only to be turned away or face waiting hours for an ambulance.

“Our NHS is in desperate need of support, the Government must give this crisis the attention it deserves.”

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