Police response times are ‘under strain’ as some forces deal with staffing shortages caused by the pingdemic, it has been suggested.
The National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) said that in some forces, functions such as control room operations are being hit by high numbers of absent staff, impacting their ability to respond quickly to calls.
Earlier, one police and crime commissioner warned the public that call response times will rise due to the pingdemic, where people are asked to self-isolate after coming into contact with a positive coronavirus case.
Steve Turner of Cleveland Police said the force has had to cancel rest days and annual leave for some officers, as well as bringing in others from different shifts, to fill gaps caused by staff having to quarantine after being close to someone with COVID-19.
It comes as a leading epidemiologist, who runs the ZOE COVID symptom study, claimed the NHS COVID app is no longer useful.
Professor Tim Spector told Sky News: “I think employers should tell their staff if they feel unwell, they have cold-like symptoms, then they stay away but I don’t think the app saying that someone might have passed them by in a supermarket is actually that useful anymore in the current state of the pandemic.”
More on Covid-19
- COVID-19: ‘Increasing pressure’ to keep shelves stocked as ‘pingdemic’ threatens staffing, retailers warn
- COVID-19: PM faces backlash over vaccine certification proposal as Labour critique plans
- COVID-19: UK records 44,104 new coronavirus cases and 73 more deaths
- COVID-19: Confusion as minister says critical jobs list for isolation exemption is being worked on
- COVID-19: 100,000 will die of coronavirus globally between now and end of the Olympics, WHO chief predicts
- COVID-19: Key areas of economy at ‘breaking point’ thanks to ‘pingdemic’, business leaders say
He added: “It doesn’t seem to be appropriate at the moment… it seems to be overkill.”
And he went on: “I think employers have got to just use common sense.”
Prof Spector said experts are currently collecting evidence from those ‘pinged’ to see how many went on to contract coronavirus.
The results are expected in a few days but Prof Spector suspects it will show the app is “not effective and should be stopped”.
“Money and tests could be spent better elsewhere, that’s my gut feeling,” he added.
Currently, around 60,000 people per day are thought to be getting ‘pinged’ and asked to self-isolate for 10 days.
Politicians, business leaders and frontline professionals have raised alarm over the figure, which has created staffing shortages across different sectors .
Latest figures show over 500,000 people were pinged by the app – which is separate to the Test and Trace service – in the week up to 7 July, but there are fears this could increase significantly before double-jabbed people are allowed to skip isolation from 16 August .
These people will instead be asked to take a PCR test as soon as possible and to quarantine if they receive a positive result.
But there are fears that over the next month many services, like food production and emergency services, will be impacted.
The government has dismissed calls to change the sensitivity of the app, but has announced exemptions for a “small number” of fully vaccinated critical workers who are identified as close contacts of coronavirus cases.
Mr Turner called on the government to test healthy emergency workers daily so they will not automatically be taken off frontline duties.
He told the BBC: “We have got to provide a service. We suddenly find ourselves cancelling rest days and cancelling leave and bringing officers in from other shifts to cover where we have got the gaps.
“However, our call times will go up, we will miss some calls we would normally pick up because we have less resilience in the call centre and all of these things will have a knock-on effect for the Cleveland public.”
Frontline services are also dealing with an increase in demand created by the heatwave, restrictions being lifted and the school holidays.
An NPCC spokesman said: “Nationally, the police officer and staff absence rate is 7.3%. However, in some forces some functions, such as control rooms, are experiencing higher levels of absence.
“Absence rates in control rooms affect a police force’s ability to respond promptly to calls from the public, in particular emergency calls.
“Police forces affected are guiding the public on how to contact the police while they are under strain. We are engaging with government about how to best resolve this issue.”
On Monday evening, Boris Johnson reiterated that people have to accept that increasing numbers would be required to self-isolate “as a consequence of living with COVID”.
He added that the self-isolation policy is “one of the few shots we have got left in our locker” following the easing of restrictions.
- DNS-over-HTTPS causes more problems than it solves, experts say
- Social Media Obsessives and Compulsive Gamers Share Addictive Traits, Experts Say
- Accidental shootings by police expose training shortfalls
- Trump stresses Saudi Arabia response to Navy base attack as Florida Republicans take harsher tone
- Are drugs found following a positive indication from a drug dog 40 per cent of the time?
- AP investigation finds 1,422 unintentional discharges of police firearms nationwide since 2012
- NHS workers, charities and health heroes celebrated in The Sun’s Who Cares Wins awards 2019
- Students And Police Were At War On A Campus Under Siege. The Sewers Were The Only Escape.
- Georgia woman recalls meeting serial rapist from dating app in doc: ‘He just looked like a normal, nice guy’
- The 100 Best Screenwriters of All Time
- Fossils in Burmese amber offer an exquisite view of dinosaur times—and an ethical minefield
- Letters: But was it an impeachable offense? (12/8/19)
- Thieves Use 'Mystery Device' To Steal Cars With Push-Button Start
- Axe murderer John Ericson plans Privy Council appeal as victim's family say he's a 'pathological liar'
- We want to limit use of e2e encryption, confirms UK minister
- NAS Pensacola gunman 'just shot through the door' during rampage, survivor says
- Retired sales director, 64, pays terrible price as a victim of Britain's diabetes epidemic after a blister on his foot leaves him without a leg
- Mass surveillance system flags Uighurs for China's detention camps
- Secret documents: China detention camps to “prevent escapes”
- Bird flu outbreak in Suffolk could spread to people – the signs to watch out for
COVID-19: Police response times 'under strain' from pingdemic - as expert says NHS app isn't 'that useful anymore' have 1076 words, post on news.sky.com at July 22, 2021. This is cached page on Europe Breaking News. If you want remove this page, please contact us.