Warnings of cancelled operations as NHS

Warnings of cancelled operations as NHS finds it ‘increasingly difficult’ to manage without absent staff – as 900,000 people are sentenced to self-isolation in a single week causing chaos for medics, firms and families across Britain

  • Hospitals having to scrap operations because staff having to self-isolate
  • Nearly 900,000 alerts telling people to isolate issued first week this month
  • NHS chiefs said system making it ‘increasingly difficult’ to deliver routine care

Factories are on the verge of shutting and hospitals are scrapping operations because so many workers are having to self isolate.

Nearly 900,000 alerts telling people to quarantine were issued in the first week of this month following contact with a coronavirus victim.

The ‘pingdemic’ is causing chaos for families and firms, prompting business leaders to demand changes on the NHS Covid-19 app to avoid a ‘self-inflicted economic wound’.

NHS chiefs warned the system was making it ‘increasingly difficult’ to deliver routine care.

There was further anger at heavy-handed enforcement of test and trace rules after police in a riot van called on a girl of 12 to ensure she was self-isolating after a positive swab.

Factories are on the verge of shutting and hospitals are scrapping operations because so many workers are having to self isolate

The chief executive of Rolls-Royce, Torsten Muller-Otvos (left), said the car maker was on the ‘edge of a critical situation’ while Chris Hopson (right), chief executive of NHS Providers, added that trust leaders ‘continued to share serious concerns about rising levels of staff isolation’

Kathryn Crook said officers called twice at her home in Manchester leaving her daughter Charlotte petrified. She added: ‘She has been in complete meltdown, thinking she was going to get arrested at any moment.’

Another 48,553 Covid cases were reported yesterday, the highest total since January, with 63 more deaths. 

Health Secretary Sajid Javid warned daily Covid infections were likely to top 100,000 after restrictions are lifted on Monday. That could force around half a million a day to self-isolate.

The chief executive of Rolls-Royce said the car maker was on the ‘edge of a critical situation’ and a complete shutdown could not be ruled out. ‘Cases have gone through the roof and it is causing havoc,’ Torsten Muller-Otvos told the Daily Telegraph.

The UK’s largest car factory, the Nissan plant in Sunderland, has been cancelling shifts and ‘hundreds’ of staff are self-isolating. A major engine supplier said it was so far behind on orders it was considering moving work permanently to China.

The National Care Association said care homes had ‘real staffing issues’ because of the app, while in Liverpool so many bin men are self-isolating that the council has told households their rubbish will not be collected until August. 

Bin rounds were also missed this week in Sutton Coldfield because of outbreaks of Covid.

Some hospital trusts have had up to 500 staff isolating at a time, forcing them to close beds and cancel operations.

In retail and hospitality a third of staff are off self-isolating in the worst hit areas, forcing thousands of venues to shut.

In other developments:

  • Official figures revealed that as few as 30 per cent of adults have been double-jabbed in inner cities; 
  •  Tesco and John Lewis will join the police and NHS in retaining Covid safeguards, including face masks, after most official restrictions end on Monday; 
  • Boris Johnson hinted guidance on wearing masks could run into next year;
  • Ministers were urged to get a grip on the Covid travel test fiasco that has led to lengthy delays and appalling service.

Individuals can be pinged by the NHS Covid app and told to self-isolate for ten days after coming into contact with an infected person. Alternatively they can be ordered to self-isolate in a phone call from NHS Test and Trace.

Health Secretary Sajid Javid warned daily Covid infections were likely to top 100,000 after restrictions are lifted on Monday

Officers visited the home of Kathryn Crook in Middleton, Greater Manchester, to check that Charlotte (above together), 12, was adhering to Covid guidance after catching the virus

A record 530,126 were pinged by the NHS app last week in England and Wales – a weekly increase of 46 per cent, figures released yesterday showed.

Another 336,056 were reached by NHS contact tracers, an increase of a third on the previous week. A total of 866,182 self-isolation alerts were sent out.

NHS Covid app (pictured) will not be made less sensitive for weeks, reports say

Quarantine rules will be changed from August 16 to exempt those who are double-vaccinated, but the British Chambers of Commerce has demanded this is brought forward to Monday.

Plans to make the NHS Covid app less sensitive, meaning fewer people would be pinged, have been delayed as concerns mount over rising infection rates.

Former Conservative Party leader Sir Iain Duncan Smith said: ‘The self-isolation policy is causing chaos in every area of British life resulting in a lockdown in everything but name. Ministers must get a grip and make urgent changes or a tsunami of pings will literally shut this country and its economy down.’

Stephen Phipson, chief executive of Make UK, which represents the manufacturing sector, said: ‘The need to isolate, even without symptoms, is now a serious issue and impacting on production.

‘It has escalated significantly over the last week. There is now an urgent priority for the Government to bring forward the August date.’

NHS England data showed a record 520,000 alerts were sent by the app last week, telling people they had been in close contact with someone who tested positive

A record number of positive tests were also linked to the app last week, data showed. There were 86,000 cases logged with the app, up 40 per cent from 61,000 the previous week

And the number of alerts sent out in relation to venues also more than doubled in seven days

Public Health England data showed 10,267 more young men than women were infected over the last two weeks, with the gender gap having widened since the tournament kicked off

Chris Hopson, of NHS Providers, said: ‘Trust leaders continue to share serious concerns about rising levels of staff isolation, which are now significantly impacting on their ability to deliver care.’

Thousands of doctors and nurses, almost all of whom have been double-jabbed, are off work after being pinged.

Infection rates are highest in the North East of England, forcing some trusts to allow workers to avoid self-isolation by taking rapid lateral flow tests.

Richard Walker, managing director of Iceland supermarkets, said: ‘Just as we thought the worst was over, Covid threatens to take its biggest toll yet on the economy, thanks to the broken test and trace system.’

A Government source acknowledged the crisis was proving ‘very difficult’ for business but said self-isolation was vital in preventing cases spiralling even further out of control.

Hundreds of workers told to self-isolate at Sunderland car factory 

A car factory in Sunderland has been thrown into chaos by the NHS app, with hundreds told to isolate.

Reports suggest up to 900 workers are being forced to stay at home after receiving ‘pings’.

Nissan said it has ‘adjusted’ production at the Wearside site, which employs 7,000 people.

But unions are warning many factories are approaching collapse with so many staff members forced to stay home by self-isolation warnings.

Nissan said it had ‘a number of staff being required to self-isolate following close contact with Covid’.

Unite assistant general secretary Steve Turner said: ‘No one is advocating for Covid controls to go out the window and Unite’s number one priority remain the health and safety of our members.

‘But the reports Unite is receiving from our members and their employers are extremely worrying.

‘It is not an exaggeration to say factories are on the verge of shutting and that at some sites hundreds of staff are off work.’ 

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