In the midst of the biggest health crisis in recent history, hundreds of doctors in Wales say important wider patient care has been neglected in the Covid-19 pandemic and are significantly worried about long-term clinical demands on the NHS.
In the biggest survey of frontline doctors since the crisis began, 835 doctors from across Wales shared their concerns, in just a 48-hour period. When asked to what extent care has worsened for patients not affected by Covid-19, over a third said it was significantly worsening (37%), with a further quarter of respondents saying it was slightly worsening (25.%).
When asked what their biggest concern was, 40% of Welsh doctors stated that longer-term care for patients was their top priority.
The health needs of patients have not disappeared, but their care has effectively been placed on hold whilst the NHS deals with the pandemic. There are serious concerns that some patients may have deteriorated and possibly died as a result.
Dr David Bailey, Chair BMA’s Welsh Council, said:
“The message we’re getting from doctors is clear; they are worried about the impact this pandemic will have in the long term for patients. Whilst getting through this pandemic is the highest priority at present, equally high on the list must be ensuring that measures are in place to manage patient demand when we come out the other side.
“Already 1 in 4 doctors said they have been redeployed to cope with the pandemic, and if they return to their usual work as services resume, this would reduce workforce available for dealing with the demand from Covid-19 care.
“We know that many ill patients are not getting the care they need now – they are risking their conditions getting worse and some may even die as a result. Once this current situation eases, there will be a spike in demand, including from patients with far more acute illnesses, caused by a delay in timely treatment. It is vital that the Welsh NHS engages with its clinicians and plans for this now.
“Welsh Government must set out a clear plan of how the system will have capacity both for the ongoing demands of the pandemic, as well as resuming services for those patients whose care has effectively been frozen.”
Notes to editors
This is the biggest survey of front-line doctors across the UK, since the crisis began, with over 15,000 doctors responding in a little over 48 hours. 835 doctors in Wales responded to the survey.
To the question ‘To what extent is prioritisation of patients with possible or confirmed COVID-19 in your place of work or the local NHS affecting the care available to those patients with no COVID-19 symptoms?’ 37% said significantly worsening, 25% said slightly worsening.
To the question ‘We would like to ask you which one of the following areas relating to the Coronavirus pandemic is of most concern / top priority to you at the current time.’ 40% said longer-term impact on patient clinical demand.