According to the Guardian, based on figures for England from the BMA, there are 46 000 NHS staff absent with Covid-19 ‘putting the health service in crisis.’
There were repeated headline warnings that the same ‘could’ happen in Scotland, only two weeks ago:
Staff absence rates are an objective measure of stress within a system like the NHS:
In the week to 5th January 2021, a total of 2 901 staff were absent due to Covid-19, down for a recent peak of 3 237 in the week to 17th November 2020.
In the same period, the number of Covid-19 patients in Scottish hospitals rose from 1 250 to 1 347 and is now 1 596. The number in ICU or combined ICU/HDU fell from 95 to 93 but has since climbed to 109.
England has 10 times the population but, if the Guardian report is accurate, around 15 times the NHS staff absence level.
The reasons are no doubt complex but fewer patients and more staff will be key.