Reports have suggested some hospitals will reduce services to 40% of what they were before the coronavirus crisis began in the hope of limiting the risk of infections.
A huge backlog has been amassed following months of lockdown procedures and recommendations that vulnerable patients postpone treatment until COVID-19 cases became manageable.
There are fears waiting lists could explode to 10million people, and that some hospitals will only be able to provide 40% of normal services after the coronavirus pandemic threw normal procedures into chaos
The NHS could be running four years behind schedule after focus was moved from normal running order to focus on the public health threat posed by the deadly coronavirus.
The warnings were published in a report by The Observer – which also suggests beds are being closed and surgeons are performing less procedures due to PPE needs.
While waiting lists for surgeries and other treatments could explode from 4.2 million to 10 million people by the end of the year.
“We could see that. It’s certainly years, not months.”
Group chief executive of Warwick hospital, George Eliot hospital in Nuneaton and County hospital in Hereford Glen Burley warned: “It could be four years before waiting times get back to pre-Covid levels.
There have been concerns thought lockdown that high death tolls could be expected in relation to severe health problems like cancer as a consequence of shifting medic’s focus to dealing with COVID-19.
“Some services will not manage much more than 40% productivity.”
While Chief executive of the NHS Confederation, which represents health service trusts, Niall Dickson told The Observer: “With social distancing and the need for personal protective equipment it is simply not possible in many services to deliver as much care as would have been possible in the past.
In April, Professor Karol Sikora, Chief Medical Officer, Rutherford Cancer Centres, predicted that 60,000 cancer patients could die after having treatment delayed by the pandemic.
He told ITV news: “Cancer doesn’t care about coronavirus. It’s a relentless evil and it requires constant vigilance to even slow the spread.
“Coronavirus will steal the headlines, but cancer kills 450 people a day in the UK – there is no peak and the numbers aren’t coming down. Unless we act urgently, that number will rise. A group of oncologists, including myself, estimate that 60,000 cancer patients could die because of a lack of treatment or diagnosis.”
“In a usual April, we would normally see around 30,000 people diagnosed with cancer. I would be surprised if that number reaches 5,000 this month.
The Daily Mail has reported that 2.1 million patients are awaiting screening for a number of cancers including breast, cervical and bowel.
While the publication claims 290,000 have missed urgent referrals to diagnose tumours, and 21,600 have had surgery, chemotherapy or radiotherapy postponed.