‘Catastrophic’ drop in NHS services is harming patients, doctors warn

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11.07. July 12, 2020.

(Updated July 12, 2020 at 1:34 pm)

Doctors warn that patients will be neglected and that their illnesses will worsen following a "catastrophic" drop in operations and appointments due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Millions of patients in England canceled procedures and appointments between April and late June this year, according to research by the British Medical Association (BMA).

Over a million planned surgeries and treatments as well as over 20,000 cancer treatments were canceled or delayed during this period.

An estimated 2.5 million outpatient appointments have been canceled.

In some cases, treatment for vulnerable patients has been discontinued due to concerns that they may be at risk from the coronavirus.

The results follow repeated warnings from experts that the NHS is lagging behind in cancer patients as many were undiagnosed during the pandemic.

Others who have already been diagnosed may experience more complications due to delays in their treatment.

Around 40% of doctors in England and Wales said they had treated patients with conditions such as cancer and heart disease that a BMA survey found was later than they would normally expect.

Doctors are now saying that some patients will have far more serious illnesses than they do – while others will be incurable.

"In order to create sufficient capacity to cope with the initial high point of the pandemic, the NHS had to close or significantly reduce many areas of non-COVID care," said the BMA Council Chairman, Dr. Chaand Nagpaul.

"However, in April, the Minister of Health said that the & # 39; NHS was open & # 39; and announced the & # 39; restoration of other NHS services – starting with the most pressing ones, such as cancer treatment and mental health support & # 39; 39 ;.

"But the BMA's research and survey show a completely different picture: a catastrophic decline in election procedures, urgent cancer referrals, first cancer treatments and outpatient appointments.

"The full impact of this drastic reduction in routine NHS care in England is only now becoming apparent."

Dr. Nagpaul described the situation as the "hidden" effects of the coronavirus crisis and warned that patient safety was "severely compromised" by the effects of an NHS disorder.

The BMA survey of 5,905 doctors also found that 29% had seen demand for non-coronavirus treatments rise to pre-closure levels in the past week.

Another 37% said that demand had increased significantly, but still at a lower level than before March.

The BMA is one of a number of groups that call for urgent action to improve NHS cancer services.

The All-Party Radiation Therapy Group (APPG RT) has recommended a six-point recovery plan that includes increasing the workforce, investing in technology, and replacing aging radiation therapy equipment.

Last month, the NHS announced plans to push ahead with the introduction of a Key treatment for radiation therapy to all cancer centers in England after an open letter from more than 200 cancer experts.

A spokesman for NHS England said: "Like any other healthcare system around the world, hospitals in this country had to adapt quickly and decisively to deal with this pandemic. The NHS in England ensured that over 100,000 patients were hospitalized could be treated. " During the peak of the virus, more than five million urgent tests, controls and treatments are still being carried out safely. Over 65,000 people begin cancer therapy.

"The services are still available to those who need them. The NHS staff – including the BMA members, of course – are working hard to bring back as many non-urgent tests and treatments as possible. However, the reality is that COVID-19 is still exists is a threat – especially for those with weakened immune systems – and special attention must be paid to the safety of people themselves, other patients, and our employees. "

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