LEGAL EAGLE: Considering the impact Covid is having on our NHS services
The latest data continues to confirm Covid-19 is having a long-lasting disruptive impact on the provision of NHS care.
A decision was taken to effectively shut down the vast majority of treatment services other than for Covid 19 in the first wave and then changes were introduced as to how referrals to hospital were then to be made through the latter part of 2020. The backlog that the NHS is now facing is staggering.
Year-on-year from 2019 onwards there have been millions of fewer elective procedures undertaken in England and just in the last 15 months there have been close to 30 million fewer outpatient attendances as a result of NHS resources being focussed on COVID 19.
Waiting lists now sits at something in the region of 6 million for patients awaiting treatment. This does not take into account those who are not yet in the system having yet to achieve a referral that they may well need.
These figures are worrying of themselves but the infection control measures and continued new protocols that the NHS have introduced both at GP level and at hospital means that this backlog cannot be addressed as swiftly as might otherwise have been the case.
The problems many of us have faced in seeing general practitioners over the last year or so maybe another problem in waiting as delays that otherwise may not have occurred in commencing investigations and making referrals for treatments are yet to be seen. There are questions over how many people avoided accident and emergency during the particularly high waves of COVID.
A perfect storm may well be brewing in terms of demand upon general practitioners and accident and emergency departments as we slowly get the pandemic under control.
One of the biggest areas of concern is for those patients suffering from serious conditions. There has also been a drop in attendances for screening services.
We all understand that the unprecedented nature of the pandemic was going to have significant consequences for our NHS however I fear the tragic statistics that we see on a regular basis concerning illness and death from COVID 19 may not be the only such tragic statistics we see as we come out of the pandemic.
It is of course my hope that the damage done by the Pandemic to other services within our NHS is not as bad as many commentators and the statistics suggest.
My Firm can assist in raising concerns with local service providers if you are concerned about continued delays in getting treatment. To discuss further please contact Ben Hoare Bell LLP on 0191 565 3112 or email [email protected] Visit www.benhoarebell.co.uk for further information.