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The impact of COVID-19 on NHS core services

View profile for Saira Walji
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The COVID-19 outbreak has had an enormous impact on core NHS services. In order to free up capacity to deal with the initial peak of the pandemic, the NHS shut down or significantly reduced many areas of non-COVID care from April 2020 onwards. This resulted in a significant drop in elective procedures, cancer referrals, treatments and outpatient appointments.

The full impact of the reduction in routine NHS care is now emerging. Millions of patients suffering with health problems, including life-threatening conditions such as cancer, have been affected with treatment being postponed or cancelled. Additionally, millions of patients have missed opportunities to undergo tests, receive follow up care and have conditions diagnosed.

The British Medical Association estimates that from April - June 2020 there were approximately:

  • 1.3 million fewer elective admissions
  • 2.5 million fewer first outpatient attendances
  • 274,000 - 286,000 fewer urgent cancer referrals
  • 12,000 - 15,000 fewer patients starting cancer treatment following urgent GP referrals.

As of February 2021, approximately 10 million people were waiting for elective medical procedures such as orthopaedic procedures, plastic surgery, cardiovascular surgery and surgery for urological issues amongst others. Whilst these patients may not be suffering with life threatening health conditions, many individuals have been left severely impacted by the delays in receiving treatment which has subsequently impacted their quality of life.

For other patients, treatment options may have changed and their prognosis, particularly in cancer patients, could now be less favourable. 

In some patients, the health issues or symptoms will have started during the pandemic and any delay in receiving treatment may have been unavoidable due to the unprecedented crisis owing to the pandemic.

For other patients, symptoms began prior to the pandemic and they were already experiencing delays in undergoing tests or treatment.

The pandemic does not negate a patient’s right to investigate a potential claim for medical negligence. At Bell Lax we all support the fantastic work that NHS staff have done during the current crisis and more generally.  Unfortunately, however, medical mistakes and delays do happen, and we are here to help.   

If you are currently experiencing a delay in receiving treatment and your condition has deteriorated, contact a member of our medical negligence team on 0121 355 0011 who can advise you whether there is a potential claim to be investigated. Alternatively, submit an enquiry on our website and a member of the medical negligence team will call you to discuss your enquiry.