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Data reveals around 10 per cent of our NHS workers are now either isolating or on sick leave, while Transport Secretary Grant Shapps confirmed 17 trusts – 12.4 per cent of them – are on a critical infections war footing.
Mr Shapps said it was “not entirely unusual for hospitals to go critical over the winter” but accepted that there are “very real pressures”.
Government figures show that a total of 17,276 people were in UK hospitals with
Covid as of January 4, up 58 per cent week-on-week.
It is the highest number since February 19 last year, but well below the peak of almost 40,000 in January 2021.
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Royal Preston Hospital’s staff canteen, Charters Restaurant, temporarily shut down on Tuesday to allow a makeshift 50-bed ward to open in its place, in addition to the 100-capacity Covid Nightingale Surge Hub being built on the visitor car park.
Lancashire Teaching Hospitals said: “We are also looking at other potential space including our physio gyms, around 50 beds could be provided there.”
Matthew Taylor, chief executive of the NHS Confederation, called for the Government to go further than the Plan B measures that the Cabinet agreed to leave in place until January 26.
He said: “The Government now needs to do all it can to mobilise more staff and resources for the NHS to get through this extremely challenging period.”
To ease the staffing crisis, he said that tens of thousands of medical students could be sent to Covid wards.
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