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NHS doctors suffering exhaustion, stress and low confidence on tackling backlog

Doctors are exhausted and have little confidence that the NHS is coping with the huge backlog of missed, cancelled and postponed care.

The latest tracker survey from the BMA of more than 7,000 doctors found that 64% said there had been a significant increase in demand for non-Covid care and a fifth of doctors said the levels of demand were higher than before the pandemic began.

There are also very real fears that there is neither the capability nor the capacity to manage a second spike in infection levels if that was to occur.

Doctors’ optimism at the ability to manage patient demand as the NHS tries to manage the backlog is also very low with just 7% having confidence that their local health economy will be able to manage.

Added to that a quarter of doctors said they’d had no engagement whatsoever from their local health economy about how the increased patient demand will be managed as normal NHS services resumed.

On the question of how they would cope if there was a second spike in Covid -19 infections, 50% of doctors said they were either not very or not at all confident.

This comes as the survey shows a slight increase in the numbers of doctors experiencing stress and, exhaustion and burnout.  

Dr Chaand Nagpaul, BMA council chair, said: “The NHS was an already beleaguered health service with record waits in A&E and hospital waiting lists before this pandemic began. Since then normal services have been put on hold with resources diverted wholesale to the Covid-19 efforts at the expense of large numbers of other patients. 

“The Government has yet to offer any clarity or action plan of how the NHS in England is expected to manage months of cancelled or postponed care; care to be given by already exhausted healthcare staff. We’ve seen the figures showing more than 2 million people waiting for cancer care alone, with overall waiting lists projected to hit 7 million by autumn.”

The BMA is calling for a “credible plan” for how the millions of patients awaiting NHS treatment in England in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, are going to get that care.

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