A stark warning has been issued by hospital bosses that England’s waiting list for treatment could almost reach ten million people by Christmas, given the fact that so many have been unable to have diagnostic tests and surgery over the last few months because of the pandemic.
The NHS Confederation has estimated that the waiting list will likely reach 9.8 million people by December because of staff shortages and caps being placed on the number of patients that hospitals can treat at any one time as a result of social distancing measures that will see bed numbers reduced, the Guardian reports.
Before the pandemic took hold, the waiting list for procedures in hospitals across England was 4.4 million. It dropped to 4.2 million because GPs referred fewer patients for care in March to help hospitals deal with coronavirus, as well as because some people were reluctant to go to hospital in case of infection.
A “pessimistic” scenario from the Confederation, which could happen if we see a second wave of the virus, could see the waiting list hit 10.8 million.
Chief executive Niall Dickson has written to the prime minister, warning him that it will take time to restart services because of social distancing and because staff are “exhausted and traumatised”.
On June 5th, the government announced that all staff members working in hospitals in England would be provided with surgical masks, which they would be expected to wear from the 15th of the month onwards.
All visitors and outpatients will be required to wear face coverings at all times, following evidence from the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies confirming that these can reduce the transmission risk for asymptomatic people.
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