The UK’s national healthcare system (NHS) is struggling to cope with around 25 percent of doctors who are off work sick or in self-isolation, as the Covid-19 pandemic wreaks havoc across frontline services.
The president of the Royal College of Physicians (RCP), Professor Andrew Goddard, claimed on Monday that around a quarter of all doctors have been forced off work, either with coronavirus or because a family member or housemate is symptomatic.
Goddard said London in particular is suffering with workforce shortages and warned that other cities are also beginning to show the strain.
This is really impacting a lot in emergency departments and London is in a much worse position than elsewhere at the moment, but it will come to other places. Birmingham is also struggling.
The claim comes after the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) revealed on Sunday that around one in every five nurses had taken time off work to self-isolate due to the outbreak of the deadly disease.
There’s been widespread criticism of the lack of availability of personal protective equipment (PPE) and of Covid-19 testing for frontline healthcare workers, both in the NHS and care home sectors.
Amged El-Hawrani, a 55-year-old ear, nose and throat specialist, became the UK’s first frontline healthcare worker to die from contracting coronavirus on Saturday night.
The disease continues to hit hard at the heart of government, with Dominic Cummings – PM Boris Johnson’s chief adviser – becoming the latest victim in Westminster to self-isolate after developing symptoms.
Cummings joins Johnson, Health Secretary Matt Hancock and England’s chief medical officer Professor Chris Whitty, who are all in self-isolation due to Covid-19.
Meanwhile, authorities warned on Sunday that life won’t return to normal for quite some time. England’s Deputy Chief Medical Officer Jenny Harries revealed that lockdown measures could be in place for at least six months, so as to lessen the chances of “a second peak” of the pandemic.
However, a report published by the Imperial College Covid-19 Response Team in the UK has warned that suppression measures being implemented by nations could last between 12-18 months – the expected time frame for a vaccine to become available.
The latest official UK figures show that 22,141 have tested positive for the coronavirus infection, resulting in 1,408 deaths so far.