Sickness rates among NHS staff are soaring across the country, with concerns among senior officials that staff feel they cannot access coronavirus testing for themselves, it has been claimed.
The Independent says it has a leaked email, sent by an NHS England regional workforce director, that shows the concerns were being discussed by NHS England’s Ceputy Chief People Officer, Professor Em Wilkinson-Brice, at the national incident board overseeing the NHS response to Covid-19.
According to the Independent, the email said: “Over the last two weeks for all but one system sickness has been increasing, and there is a discussion nationally[…]about whether this is due to inability to access testing.”
The Independent reports that on the same day as the email was sent out, NHS England’s chief people officer Prerana Issar told a conference organised by the Health Service Journal that she was not hearing of any problems with staff getting tested.
The Independent said she told the conference: “Testing [for staff] is a key part of the strategy, of course, of the response to Covid.
“I am not hearing right now that there’s a problem with staff getting tested. Sickness absence due to Covid, which was high when we had less testing close to the beginning of the pandemic, has come right down.”
Health Secretary Matt Hancock said just days ago that extra funding for the NHS would help it to operate safely in a “world where Covid is still at large”.