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What Impact has Covid had on our National Health Service?
What Impact has Covid had on our National Health Service?

25 Jan 2022

What Impact has Covid had on our National Health Service?

As Omicron continues to spread around the population quicker than any Covid variant to date, our government voices the same concern they have throughout the entire pandemic – we need to do whatever we can to protect our NHS. Even with Omicron presenting as a seemingly weaker strain of the virus, with up to 70% fewer people being hospitalised with the illness, the sheer amount of people catching it means we will still see large numbers of people in hospital needing treatment.

The effect Covid has had on our national health service has been substantial. From the mental health of frontline workers, to missed diagnoses, and the limited capacity to treat non-covid related illnesses or book elective procedures, our NHS has felt the full weight of this pandemic.

From April to June 2020, during our first lockdown, the BMA estimates that England saw approx. 1.5 million fewer elective admissions, and up to 2.6 million fewer outpatient attendances. These numbers have only continued to grow with almost 6 million people now awaiting some form of treatment.

A patient group notably affected has been those with cancer. During the first few months of lockdown we saw 25,900 fewer patients starting first cancer treatments following a decision to treat. This, combined with the change in routine screenings such as mammograms, and an 80% decrease in urgent 2-week-wait referrals for suspected cancer has led to missed diagnoses and delays in time sensitive treatment.

We also need to look at the psychological impact that Covid has had on our NHS. Frontline workers have been exposed to some of the most difficult working conditions imaginable. A recent study by The Nursing Times tells us that 33% of nurses describe their overall mental health and wellbeing right now as ‘bad’ or ‘very bad.’ The study also states “87% of respondents rated themselves as either “a lot” or “a little” more stressed at work than usual, while 90% said they were “a lot” or “a little” more anxious than before the outbreak. Over 50% described themselves as “a lot” more anxious or stressed. “

The general population’s mental health has also been affected by 2 years of social isolation, bereavement, loss of income and a huge upheaval to our regular lives and routines, and according to the World Health Organisation, mental health services across the world are struggling to keep up with demand.

Covid has irreversibly changed our world. There are things we did pre-pandemic that we will likely never do again. Some small, like shaking hands. Some large, like taking our NHS for granted.


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