NHS National Medical Director Professor Stephen Powis said: “Even though the numbers are going in the right direction, NHS staff will have many tough months ahead as they continue to deliver patient care while managing competing demands.
“While staff absences remain high and continue to increase in some parts of the country, it is good to see they have been reducing week on week.
“The number of people in hospital for both COVID and non-COVID care remains high, and arrivals at A&E via ambulance increased by more than 2,000, even as the largest and fastest vaccination programme in NHS history is boosting the nation and helping to protect people from the virus.
“Despite everything they have to manage, hardworking staff continue to provide routine care to patients, including rising numbers of routine checks, and they are determined to do more, so the public can help us by coming forward for care when they need it and getting their life saving COVID-19 jabs”.
Pressures remain high in hospitals, with more than 93.2% adult general and acute beds occupied in the week ending 16 January 2022 – equivalent to nearly 500 more adult patients per day than the week before.
Around 2,000 NHS beds had to be kept empty and out of use because of infection prevention and control measures.
The number of people arriving to hospital by ambulance remains high with over 83,000 patients arriving at emergency departments by ambulance last week – increasing by more than 2,000 on the week before.
And the NHS has had to contend with more than 77,000 staff absent due to sickness each day last week, 20,000 more than at the start of December.