Britons can wait up to two years for treatment with NHS because of Covid-19 infection control rules.
Almost half of the heart, stomach and other specialists will work at a reduced level in the next 12 months, according to the Royal College of Physicians.
In mid-March, the non-emergency NHS operation was interrupted for three months to prepare for a coronavirus outbreak. They have only just resumed.
Doctors are now performing fewer procedures because of the time it takes to scrub equipment between visits and put on and dispose of protective equipment.
Social distance measures mean that fewer patients can sit in waiting rooms or wards at the same time, which can cut the number of people seen by a specialist per day by half.
The Covid-19 outbreak has caused a huge backlog in people waiting for treatment, including patients with heart disease and arthritis.
Hospitals were cleared and appointments and surgeries were pushed back to make way for the increase in Covid-19 patients who needed care.
Leaders in respiratory medicine and gastroenterology expect it to take two years to clear the gap, while those in cardiology expect it to take about 21 months.
However, this is the best scenario, and a second wave of coronavirus can worsen treatment delays, the RCP warns.
Britons can wait up to two years for life-saving treatments on the NHS due to new Covid-19 infection control rules. Doctors perform fewer procedures due to the time it takes to scrub equipment between visits and to put on and dispose of protective equipment (file)
Average waiting time for NHS treatment skyrocketed during the coronavirus epidemic as hospitals had to cancel non-emergency surgeries to make room for an expected increase in Covid-19 patients
Professor Andrew Goddard, President of the RCP, said: “We must be honest with patients that it will take longer and that we work as hard as possible to bring services back to pre-pandemic levels.
“We cannot underestimate the scale of the work ahead of NHS staff and the very real possibility of further COVID-19 outbreaks and additional waves, which would naturally increase the challenge ahead of us.
“Medical specialties are doing their best to meet demand and will need continued support from NHS England, the Department of Health and Social Care, to get services back in order.
Fear of time bomb cancer in cancer, as NHS figures show 60% fewer urgent referrals in April compared to last year due to the Covid-19 pandemic
Thousands of cancers could have been missed due to a massive drop in referrals during the coronavirus crisis, shocking figures suggested today.
NHS statistics show that 79,573 urgent referrals to cancer were made by GPs in England in April 2020 – 60 percent less than 199,217 in April 2019.
MacMillan, a cancer charity, says about 210,000 people should have been referred by April this year, suggesting that about 130,000 people were missed.
About 7 percent of those usually need cancer treatment, meaning about 9,000 people may be undiagnosed.
Experts told MailOnline “it’s not that there are fewer people with cancer, it’s that they aren’t being diagnosed because of a bottleneck in the NHS.”
The health service faces a shocking backlog in business as it tries to return to normal after shutting down most of its services to deal with the pandemic.
Prominent charities estimate that 2.5 million cancer patients missed essential tests and treatments this year because of the crisis.
Figures also showed that the number of people who waited more than a year for treatment with NHS tripled in April, making the harmful effect of Covid on the health of the country even greater.
In the short to medium term, it is likely that physicians, as they have always done, will need to prioritize care to respond to reduced capacity levels across the NHS.
“We also need to be honest with patients that it will take longer and work as hard as possible to bring services back to pre-pandemic levels.
“The public can also play a critical role by following social distance guidelines, keeping COVID-19 contamination rates low, allowing services to focus on restoring normal NHS activities.”
At the onset of the pandemic, specialist physicians were transferred to ICU and Covid wards to accommodate the wave of patients.
But tens of thousands of these clinicians have still not returned to their normal specialty, which also delays vital services for non-Covid patients.
In mid-May, 32 percent of the 25,500 members of RCP in the UK reported working in a clinical area different from their normal practice.
By early June, this had been reduced to 22 percent, meaning a fifth of the workforce was still working outside their normal working area.
When asked how long it would take the NHS to return to pre-pandemic levels, 98 percent of RCP members thought it would take at least six months.
Seven out of ten think it will last more than a year and four in ten say it will be more than 18 months.
Meanwhile, it emerged last night that patients should wait up to a year for hip and knee replacements because of the new Covid infection control measures.
Doctors are concerned that some patients on the waiting list are being prescribed highly addictive opioid painkillers.
Professor Philip Turner, the immediate previous president of the British Orthopedic Association, said hospitals “prioritize” patients pending surgery, including hip and knee replacements, to find out which cases were most urgent.
He said, “It may seem unfair to those who have been on the list the longest and thought they were about to enter.
“I have spoken to some who have received their letters of admission – they have now been told ‘no’. But perhaps it is not those who need the most urgent treatment. ‘
Professor Turner said many would “unfortunately” wait more than six months, adding, “I think it could take a year.”
The latest NHS figures show that the number of patients waiting a year or more for surgery or other procedures has increased tenfold compared to 2019.
A total of 11,042 people waited at least 52 weeks from April, compared to 1,047 in April last year.
Professor Derek Alderson, president of the Royal College of Surgeons, said the increasingly longer waiting times were “a cause for great concern,” adding, “a significant number of patients in these categories are those waiting for orthopedic joint replacements.”
Nigel Edwards, director of the think tank Nuffield Trust, said, “The reality is that some people end up waiting a long time. All orthopedic surgeons in an area should look at their waiting lists and say, if we can do a thousand cases and we have 2000 people, who do we do? ‘
According to the NHS Constitution, patients should not wait more than 18 weeks for routine procedures.
The situation is getting worse because GPs cut their referrals during the coronavirus outbreak, meaning many patients don’t even make it to the waiting list.
Figures from the British Orthopedic Association show that the number of referred patients for orthopedic surgery decreased by 80 percent in April – 33,966 referrals compared to 176,033 in April 2019.
Professor Turner said, “To get back to the transit we would normally have, we’re probably looking at two years.”
He added that he was “very concerned” that patients were given opioid pain medications by their GP because they were in so much pain.
“We are concerned about the types of pain relief (pain killers) they may receive. The other major controversy is about the use of opiates for analgesia.
10 MILLION patients on Christmas waiting lists for NHS operations, health bosses warn
By the end of the year, 10 million people could be put on NHS waiting lists due to coronavirus suspicions, health directors have warned.
Last August, there were a record of 4.41 million patients in England waiting for routine surgeries, up 250,000 from the same month a year earlier.
But that number is expected to more than double because of a lag due to the Covid-19 crisis, according to NHS projections.
When officials realized the virus was getting out of hand in the UK, they urged hospitals to cancel operations and take patients out to make way for a wave of virus cases.
The move kept hospitals from getting overwhelmed, but hundreds of thousands of non-virus patients have had treatment delayed.
The health service is also bracing for the worst winter ever recorded, when it will have to fight an influx of seasonal flu and Covid-19 patients.
A new report from the NHS Confederation, which represents health and care leaders, predicts 10 million people on Christmas waiting lists.
Employers behind the projection said that, at best, 8 million people can wait for treatment if a vaccine or therapy comes before then.
Experts have warned that it can take two years to clear up the backlog even if there is no second wave of coronavirus.
The report warned that services will operate at about 60 percent of the capacity due to new NHS infection control and social distance measures.
NHS Confederation Director Niall Dickson has written Boris Johnson in preparation the public for the enormous waiting times they will face for months after the crisis is over.
He has also called for guarantees on personal protective equipment (PPE) and the effectiveness of the government Test and trace program.