The quality of care given by the NHS is at times being compromised, according to a health leader who has warned against “wishful thinking” about how soon the Omicron threat will subside.
Matthew Taylor, chief executive of the NHS Confederation, said the country is “far from out of the woods” as he called for “honesty” and “realism”.
The health service has been under intense pressure because of high Covid rates, leading to both hospital admissions and staff absences increasing.
Mr Taylor said: “The national data on reported cases offers some hope, but we should be under no illusions that this pressure has evaporated, including in London.
“One leader of an NHS trust in the north told me that they felt they were at least a week away from their peak, while more than one in 10 of their staff were absent.
“On top of that, they have medically fit patients stuck in hospital beds because the pandemic has decimated capacity in social care.
“We may be at the end of the beginning of this wave but we are far from out of the woods.
“NHS leaders are doing everything they can to keep their services running but they are being put in a worrying situation where the quality of care their teams are able to provide is at times being compromised.
“They need honesty about how quickly the NHS can bounce back once the Omicron variant really does subside across all parts of the country and what will be expected.
“Decisions about what living with Covid-19 will mean must be driven by realism and not by wishful thinking and impatience about how soon the threat and legacy of this strain will disappear.”
The NHS Confederation is a membership organisation that speaks for the healthcare system in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.