NHS chief Amanda Pritchard blames sickness rates on the ‘extraordinary’ response to the pandemic

NHS chief Amanda Pritchard blames service’s worst-ever illness rate on ‘extraordinary’ response to pandemic

  • NHS England Chief Executive said the service continues to suffer from pandemic effects
  • There is an increase in mental health problems and respiratory problems among the workforce

Health chief Amanda Pritchard said the highest-ever illness rates are reaching the NHS due to the ‘extraordinary’ response to the pandemic, according to health chief Amanda Pritchard yesterday.

She made her comment during a questioning by the Government Accounts Committee about last year’s absenteeism rate of 5.6 percent, which was higher than at the height of Covid.

NHS England’s chief executive said the service is still suffering from the effects of the pandemic, with mental health and respiratory problems on the rise among staff.

“There was an extraordinary response from the NHS during Covid,” Ms Pritchard told MPs.

‘People have done the most extraordinary things on a personal and professional level, but that has a long-term impact, that is well understood. So we see some of that reflected in the current morbidity figures.’

The NHS England chief executive said the service is still suffering from the effects of the pandemic with an increase in mental health and respiratory problems among staff

NHS data for 2022 showed that a quarter of sick days were caused by anxiety, stress and burnout.

At the same meeting, England’s medical director, Professor Steve Powis, said the NHS was ‘doing all the right things’ to prepare for the coming winter.

The service wanted to be ready in October ‘instead of a last-minute sprint’ with, among other things, more virtual departments, more money for ambulance services and attention to the discharge of patients.

Meanwhile, a report from the British Medical Association, which surveyed 600 doctors, warns that a “significant” number are still suffering the “debilitating effects” of prolonged Covid.

One in five said they had been forced to stop working or significantly reduced their hours, impacting the workforce.

More than half (54 per cent) have been battling symptoms since the start of the pandemic in March 2020, with many saying they did not have access to personal protective equipment when they were first infected.

Daily tasks such as dressing, household activities and childcare have become difficult or impossible for 60 percent.

A spokesman for the Department of Health said NHS staff can find support for long Covid from their GP or from one of 100 specialist clinics across the country.