COVID related staff shortages continued to have a significant impact on British life just hours before much of the nation returns to work, with bin collections suspended, rail services cancelled and one in ten NHS staff off sick.
And as some workers prepare to go back into the office after the Christmas and New Year holidays, others continue to operate from home. Figures revealed that almost a third of rail services have been axed at some stations in recent days.
Almost one in ten rail staff across all train firms in the United Kingdom are believed to be off with sickness including COVID, while major engineering works on key commuter routes are scheduled to continue until midway through the week.
Councils across the United Kingdom are having to redistribute staff between essential services to keep everything operating, and the public sector has been asked to prepare for a worst-case scenario of up to a quarter of staff off work.
The Cabinet Office said that, so far, disruption caused by Omicron had been controlled in most parts of the public sector, but it said leaders had been asked to test plans against 10, 20 and 25 per cent workforce absence rates.
According to a newspaper outlet, councils in Buckinghamshire, Essex, Manchester and Somerset have all reduced or cancelled bin collections, and Chelmsford is suspending three days of food waste collections with 23 staff absent.
In the health service, one in ten NHS employees were not in hospitals on New Year’s Eve due to illness, according to official figures, but less than half had coronavirus, amounting to fewer than 50,000 of the 110,000, not in work.
It comes as bin collections were withdrawn in locations including Manchester, Essex and Somerset due to staff shortages.
The number of NHS workers remaining at home for COVID reasons has doubled in recent days, figures have revealed.
Local council officials said they were having to redeploy staff between services to keep everything operating.
A fruit and vegetable chain said its absence rates were at 15 per cent as they moved staff between stores.
The Fuller’s pub group said absence rates were improving in London and now seemed to be past their peak.
James Jamieson, chair of the Local Government Association, told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme this morning that there were existing pressures that were already there before Christmas, bins, due to lack of HGV drivers, that’s definitely been an area of pressure.
He said that their biggest problem is social care, because not only are they seeing potentially more staff absences, they’re going to see more demand as the NHS strives to discharge more people to the hospital.
It seems like open season to have some extra holiday time under the guise of the COVID banner. Still, the train drivers have a long way to go to beat the GP’s in their never-ending absence during the last two years, and now people are saying, ‘What’s a GP?’
This should end now. If someone is sick, then that’s okay, take time off work, but if you’re not ill, go to work because COVID is going to be with us for an extremely long time.
Almost every year after the New Year train companies have had major problems running their trains immediately after the New Year. They blame it on staff shortages, timetable changes, frozen lines, trains parked in the wrong places and now, of course, they can rely on COVID to use as another excuse this year.
Sadly the aim is there to scare people so that people are kept living in fear and in a continuous state of worry.