Around one in four NHS doctors are off work sick or in isolation either with coronavirus or because a family member or housemate is ill.
Professor Andrew Goddard, president of the head of the Royal College of Physicians, said he believes that rather than a tidal wave of sickness hitting doctors, “it’s more doctors self-isolating with family members, though there are some off sick themselves”.
He said: “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.”
However, Professor Goddard said there were signs of a slowdown in COVID-19 hospital admissions.
NHS Chief Executive Simon Stevens said staff absence makes it all the more important for the public to adhere to the medical advice and stay at home.
“NHS staff are affected just like people across the country as a whole and so we are seeing staff who are doing the right thing of having to self-isolate at home,” he said, speaking from the newly made Nightingale Hospital in London.
“That’s one of the reasons why it’s so important that we are ramping up staff testing, but it’s also vital that all of us take the medical advice and stay at home.”