A UK nursing boss has said that there is "worry" among hospital staff that they cannot provide safe care and they are close to being "pushed over the edge."
It follows a claims from an NHS leader that it is "wishful thinking" to believe the Omicron threat is over.
Royal College of Nursing's England director Patricia Marquis said that the warning from the NHS Confederation that there is "dangerous complacency around omicron threat" would "resonate across nursing".
Rather than an upbeat image, Ms Marquis painted a picture of nurses struggling to cope.
She said: “This warning will resonate across nursing. The latest NHS performance figures for England should leave ministers in no doubt at the severity of the situation. The data exposes the hollowness of their words about ‘bumps’ in the road.
“Our members are worried that they can’t provide safe care as the Omicron wave, very high staff absences, seasonal pressures and the backlog threaten to push them over the edge.
Nurses are tackling high Covid cases, seasonal highs and hospital backlogs
Lancashire Post / SWNS)
"Ministers must be honest about the state of the NHS and the risks being posed to patient care. They cannot keep looking away, we are in urgent need.”
Ms Marquis spoke after Matthew Taylor, chief executive of the NHS Confederation, said the country is "far from out of the woods" as he called for "honesty" and "realism".
The health service has been under intense pressure because of high Covid rates, leading to both hospital admissions and staff absences increasing.
Mr Taylor said: "The national data on reported cases offers some hope, but we should be under no illusions that this pressure has evaporated, including in London.
"One leader of an NHS trust in the north told me that they felt they were at least a week away from their peak, while more than one in 10 of their staff were absent.
Ms Marquis painted a picture of nurses struggling to cope
"On top of that, they have medically fit patients stuck in hospital beds because the pandemic has decimated capacity in social care.
"We may be at the end of the beginning of this wave but we are far from out of the woods.
"NHS leaders are doing everything they can to keep their services running but they are being put in a worrying situation where the quality of care their teams are able to provide is at times being compromised.
"They need honesty about how quickly the NHS can bounce back once the Omicron variant really does subside across all parts of the country and what will be expected.
"Decisions about what living with Covid-19 will mean must be driven by realism and not by wishful thinking and impatience about how soon the threat and legacy of this strain will disappear."