Omicron: SAGE warning calls for policy decisions 'sooner'
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Senior NHS sources received new guidelines on Tuesday following the rise of Omicron admissions into hospitals. Nearly 119,789 new Covid cases and 147 more coronavirus-related deaths were registered in the past 24 hours in the UK.
The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) reported 16,817 additional confirmed cases of the Omicron variant of Covid identified across the country.
Although government public health experts have explained that Omicron is less likely to result in severe disease and hospital admissions, the NHS still has to prepare for a new wave of infections in late December to early January.
NHS England reportedly asked all hospitals nationally to host “mini-Nightingale hospitals” in their car parks, canteens and meeting rooms.
The Nightingale hospitals were large field hospitals built in London, Birmingham, Bristol, Cumbria, Exeter, Harrogate and Manchester during the first Covid wave.
However, the fast-made hospitals were not widely used.
The temporary wards could care for up to 100 patients who would be the least sick.
Workers in the makeshift facilities would be mostly non-hospital staff. The NHS suffers from staffing shortages and Covid infections within its own ranks.
According to the Royal College of Physicians (RCP), one in 13 doctors is currently off work due to Covid.
Patients requiring oxygen and ventilators would continue to be treated in existing specialist wards.
The army could be deployed to help with monitoring the field hospitals, but a formal request has not been made yet.
Andrew Goddard, president of the RCP, said: “If we had proper NHS workforce planning, taking into account current and likely future demand, I predict we would have many more thousands of doctors, nurses and other clinicians.”
A spokesperson for the NHS said: “In light of the potential threat of Omicron, it is right that the NHS prepares for any surge in hospital admissions.
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“Hospitals are already putting measures in place.
“The best thing the public can do is book their booster vaccine.”
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