Some UK hospitals ask recently retired staff to return to work amid Omicron surge

As the COVID-19 variant Omicron continues to spread around the world, hospitals in the United Kingdom are urging staff members who have recently retired to return to work.


Matthew Taylor, the chief executive of the Confederation of National Health Services (NHS), said many hospitals are grappling with staff shortages as Prime Minister Boris Johnson doubles down on his hesitation to implement the new restrictions.

Taylor said, “Hospitals that have declared serious incidents, for example, are essentially reaching out to staff who are on leave, on rest days or have recently retired and asking them to return to the ward. So the situation is hopeless.” “Any way to get staff back to the hospital is a good thing.”


Britain has begun easing COVID-19 testing requirements in England in an effort to reduce the number of people being hospitalized with the virus. From January 11, people who test positive for COVID-19 using the Rapid Lateral Test will not have to confirm their findings with a PCR test if they are asymptomatic. If they exhibit symptoms, PCR testing is encouraged. Other areas of the UK are not affected by the relaxation.

“While COVID cases are on the rise,” said Jenny Harris, chief executive of the UK Health Protection Agency, “this tried-and-tested approach means that LFD can be used with confidence to pinpoint COVID-19 infection without the need for PCR confirmation.” can be done.


As the COVID-19 variant Omicron continues to spread around the world, hospitals in the United Kingdom are urging staff members who have recently retired to return to work. Above, a pedestrian walks past a job advertisement for nurses, ODPs and healthcare assistants in front of St James’s University Hospital in Leeds, northern England, on January 5, 2022, where a temporary “Nightingale” COVID-19 surge hub has been installed Have to go ,
Photo by Ollie Scarf / AFP via Getty Images

Professor John Edmonds at the Center for Mathematical Modeling of Infectious Diseases at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine said the move made sense.

“When the prevalence is high – and it is incredibly high at the moment – ​​almost everyone who tests positive with a lateral flow test will be a true positive. There is really no need to confirm it with PCR, A move that not only wastes time but also costs a lot of money and uses laboratory resources that could be better used elsewhere,” he said.

But he cautioned that the change would mean officials would have less data about the prevalence of the different types as PCR swabs are used to identify different mutations for genotyping and sequencing. He said the change would also mean that daily updates on confirmed cases—which also come from PCR tests—”might require more careful interpretation.”


Confirmed new daily infections across the UK reached a record 218,274 on Tuesday, 15 per cent higher than the previous high set on 31 December. However, inconsistent reporting may have inflated the daily figures during the holiday period.

Britain’s opposition Labor Party leader Keir Starmer tested positive and will miss the chance to grill Johnson in parliament on Wednesday about the government’s COVID-19 policies.

A group of NHS local organizations have declared “serious incidents” in recent days amid staff shortages. Hospitals in the Greater Manchester area said they would halt some non-urgent surgeries amid the growing impact of COVID-19 and staff absenteeism.


Gillian Keegan, a junior minister in the UK Health Ministry, acknowledged the tension in an interview with the BBC.

“Right now, they are under immense pressure with the Omron version, with the number of positive cases and hospitalizations increasing, and at this point [winter] The times when they are always under extreme pressure,” Keegan said.

Train services have also been cut and garbage is piling up on some city streets due to lack of staff to collect it.

An ambulance service in northeastern England advised patients with non-life-threatening conditions over New Year’s weekend to ask a relative to take them to hospital as waiting times for ambulances increased due to staff shortages and excess demand. went.

“It’s still taking us a long time to get ambulances to patients. Unfortunately, this puts patients at risk, which is unacceptable,” Matthew Beatty, medical director of the North East Ambulance Service, said on Wednesday.

However, he insisted that “we would never ask anyone with a life-threatening illness to take themselves to the hospital.”

Opposition politicians and some public health experts have pressured the government to ban business and personal interactions as Omicron sweeps the country. Johnson resisted his calls after nearly 100 lawmakers in his party opposed mask requirements and other infection-control measures imposed last month.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

England Ambulance
Britain has begun easing COVID-19 testing requirements in England in an effort to reduce the number of people being hospitalized with the virus. Above, a patient wearing face coverings and PPE wheels in front of an ambulance parked outside Leeds General Infirmary Hospital in Leeds, northern England, on January 5, 2022.
Photo by Ollie Scarf / AFP via Getty Images