20 hospital trusts declare critical incidents piling pressure on Boris to slash Covid isolation
A TOTAL of 20 hospital trusts have declared critical incidents as pressure mounts on Boris Johnson to slash the length of Covid isolation.
With the mild Omicron variant spreading, the seven-day isolation period is causing a staff shortage at hospitals – amid demands for it to be cut to five days.
Downing Street has now confirmed 20 trusts now have "critical" status, though it is hoped this will be short-lived.
Calls for the quarantine period to be further reduced comes amid a string of hugely positive studies which showed Omicron IS milder than other strains, with the first official UK report revealing the risk of hospitalisation is 50 to 70 per cent lower than with Delta.
Covid booster jabs protect against Omicron and offer the best chance to get through the pandemic, health officials have repeatedly said.
The Sun's Jabs Army campaign is helping get the vital extra vaccines in Brits' arms to ward off the need for any new restrictions.
But data shows 90 per cent of Covid patients in ICU still haven’t had their life-saving booster jab.
The situation has sparked renewed calls to slash isolation for people who test positive for the virus from seven to five days to get healthy and much-needed healthcare staff back to work.
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Currently, confirmed cases are forced to stay at home for at least a week, down from 10 days before Christmas.
Tory MPs are among a legion of voices demanding the quarantine period be cut to speed up the return to work.
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Soldiers could even be deployed to plug the absences of critical workers if needed.
It comes as health bosses also revealed 17 Greater Manchester hospitals could no longer provide priority services.
Hundreds of other patients have also had major operations cancelled, with many more expected in the coming weeks.
Three hospitals under the University Hospitals Dorset NHS Foundation Trust have reduced operations thanks to their "extremely busy" urgent care services and number of staff off sick.
And Derriford Hospital in Plymouth is facing similar issues, with almost 500 staff absences.
Extra beds are being used at an emergency Nightingale hospital in Manchester to help deal with wards at capacity.
And United Lincolnshire Hospitals NHS Trust said it was "unable to maintain safe staffing levels" leading to "compromised care" across its sites.
Daily Covid cases have been over 100,000 for almost a fortnight, with one in 10 NHS staff off sick on New Year's Eve.
And UK-wide, more than 3.7million people had the virus in the last week of 2021 – the highest since records began.
But it is now hoped Britain may follow the US and slash isolation requirements to five days to keep the nation moving.
The Prime Minister's official spokesman yesterday said: "We keep a very close eye on NHS capacity, that's something we track very closely," before stressing the importance of getting vaccinated to see a return to "normal life".
They added: "We know that admissions and occupancy are increasing significantly at the moment – we're not seeing that same jump in beds requiring ventilation, which is pleasing, and almost certainly a function of both the nature of Omicron and our successful booster programme."
VACCINES 'VERY IMPORTANT'
Up to 90 per cent of Covid patients in intensive care units have not yet had their booster jabs.
The PM last week said: "I'm sorry to say this but the overwhelming majority of people who are currently ending up in intensive care in our hospitals are people who are not boosted.
"If you're not vaccinated, you're eight times more likely to get into hospital altogether.
"So it's a great thing to do. It's very, very important."
After declaring critical incidents at three Dorset hospitals, a spokesperson for the Great Western Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, managing the Great Western Hospital in Swindon, Wilts, said: "There are also lots of patients coming through our urgent and emergency care services, which means our hospital is extremely busy.
"These pressures are made more challenging as we have many staff off sick with Covid-19 or isolating, or with other conditions."
The Swindon hospital's chief executive, Kevin McNamara, added: "Following a tough few days at GWH we have this morning declared an internal critical incident due to sustained high levels of demand (Covid and non-Covid) and availability of beds.
"This is causing delays to patients accessing services for which I am very sorry.
"We always knew that January would be a tough month for everyone and our modelling shows that it is likely to get tougher in the next few weeks.
"Our teams are working hard to provide care to those that need it and we are of course working closely with partners seeking support."
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