A survey by the Royal College of Physicians which represents over 33,000 doctors in the UK found that doctors are concerned for patients as practice and rotas return to normal.
Three fifths report being concerned for patients under their care who might have suffered harm or complications following diagnosis or treatment delays during the pandemic while almost two thirds of respondents report that they have not been involved in conversations about preparing for a second wave. Of those who have been involved, nearly all say they are preparing on the assumption that a second wave of COVID-19 is likely or extremely likely.
Rotas had returned to normal for almost two thirds , although in the north west of England only 64% had returned to normal rotas.
With the shift away from face-to-face appointments, almost three quarters are now conducting remote consultations. one fifth reported they still did not have access to a webcam to carry out video consultations.
The overwhelming majority are concerned about the indirect impacts of COVID-19 on their patients. Delays to diagnosis or treatment was the most common concern, cited by 58%.
Most report that their hospital has restarted diagnostic procedures, but of these a third (34%) say only a very small of procedures have restarted. London appears to face greater challenges than the rest of England –46% report only a small number of procedures restarting, compared to 30% in the rest of England.
Commenting on the results of the survey, RCP president Professor Andrew Goddard said:
“Delays to treatment are so often a major issue for the NHS but as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s fair to say we’ve reached crisis point. Doctors are, understandably, gravely concerned that their patients’ health will have deteriorated to the point where they will need much more extensive treatment than previously, at a time when NHS resources are already incredibly depleted.
“We also cannot underestimate the need to prepare for a second wave of COVID-19 infection, which threatens to compound the situation. Without careful and rigorous preparation, a second wave coupled with the winter flu season, could overwhelm the NHS.”