The rise of COVID hospital patients puts critical UK hospital services in crisis, doctors warn.
NHS data show that A&E is facing increasing delays in getting critically ill patients to wards.
At the same time, the total number of people who are now required to wait for treatment throughout the year is more than 100 times higher than before the outbreak.
Cancer experts also warn that stopping their services is “scary” and will result in death.
The hospital reportedly canceled the urgent operation – London’s King’s College Hospital stopped prioritizing two treatments, one that had to be done within 28 days.
And the trust of Birmingham’s major hospitals has temporarily suspended most of the liver transplants.
It comes after an increase in COVID-19 cases in the past few weeks.
One third of hospital patients have the virus – and in some areas more than half.
‘I’m strong But I fell apart ‘
Paul, 57, from Manchester, canceled radiation therapy for cancer in early January.
His tumors – between the lungs and above the heart – could not be operated on because two arteries were fed, so the doctor could only stop growing.
He’s been waiting to shine since 2020.
“Am I going to be one of the thousands of cancer patients who die prematurely because the NHS prioritizes Covid-19 over cancer patients?
“I am a strong man. But I was destroyed. All my family is rooting for me. But I can’t see them
“Because it’s cancer, it’s stressful, I’m just feeling nervous all the time.”
Professor Stephen Powis, medical director of the British NHS, said the NHS was dealing with “An exceptionally difficult challenge.” Adding services will continue to be pressured until the virus is under control.
But he stressed that COVID-free treatments continued to take place, with more than three times the diagnosis being performed and more than twice the time being performed compared to spring when the first outbreak occurred.
How is the service affected?
Data published by NHS England illustrates the magnitude of the impact of dealing with Covid on critical hospital services.
Data published Thursday shows:
- Nearly 90,000 patients, one in four hospitalized through A&E, waited more than four hours to find a bed.
- This includes a record of 3,745 people waiting more than 12 hours.
- There were 4.46 million people waiting for routine treatment, including surgery on the knee and hip.
- More than 192,000 had waited over a year – in February, before the outbreak began, the figure stood at 1,600.
- Staff have to be deployed in critically ill care after rising COVID cases have forced hospitals to increase the number of intensive care beds by the quarter since November.
Cancer numbers date back to November, before more cases were seen.
At that point, the number of urgent cancer examinations and treatment started at normal levels.
But since then, there have been concerns that services have dropped.
Prof Patprice from the Catch Up With Cancer campaign said services are facing “The biggest crisis” of her 30-year career.
“This is a truly horrible situation,” she added.
And the Royal College of Surgeons warned that the outbreak is severely affecting the waiting times for planned surgery.
Sarah Scobie of the Nuffield Trust think tank said services are subject to “Unbearable stress”, adding “the worst has yet to come”
Saffron Cordery of NHS providers, representing hospital supervisors, agrees: “There is no doubt that the next few weeks will be the most testing in NHS history.”