Hospital Dr News

Doctors question whether NHS has capacity to re-start routine treatments

Many doctors have ‘little or no confidence’ in the NHS’ ability to provide safe patient care as routine treatments are set to restart.

More than ten thousand doctors took part in a BMA survey and over two thirds said they had either little or no confidence that the expected demand could be properly managed.

Over 50% said the care for patients without Covid-19 is already suffering with the situation in their hospital trust, GP practice or local NHS in England getting worse 

These findings come just two days after NHS England published a ‘road map’ to support the resumption of routine operations and treatments over the next six weeks.

Dr Chaand Nagpaul, BMA Council Chair, said: “When thousands of doctors are telling us they continue to have little or no confidence in being able to manage the levels of demand for care from patients without Covid 19, it begs the question, ‘What evidence is the Westminster government using to believe that normal NHS services can resume?’”

“Last month the Government insisted that before lockdown was eased, the NHS must be able to cope. These results clearly show that doctors on the frontline feel this is not the case. The BMA is regularly surveying doctors across the UK and this is the second time they are telling us about very low confidence levels.”

“The lowest level of confidence is for managing demand in the community – care homes for example – with 69% saying they are not very or not at all confident. And in terms of patients being able to have tests, scans and other diagnostic type treatment, around 60% of doctors said they had little or no confidence that demand could be properly managed.”

The BMA says the NHS England road map gives no detail about how all patients will be cared for in an environment free of infection, how the risk of infection will be mitigated and how the Government intends to provide enough PPE not just for Covid care but for all those staff and patients in non-Covid areas.

With more than 7 million people on hospital waiting lists, the BMA calls on the Government to set out a clear and tangible plan of how the system will have capacity both for the ongoing demands of the pandemic, as well as resuming services for those patients who are left in limbo.

These findings are part of a wider survey by the BMA which has been conducted every two weeks since the crisis begun. It has been tracking how doctors are responding to the pandemic and the impact it is having on their working lived and wellbeing.

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