LONDON (Sputnik) – Million of patients who missed out on hospital treatments unrelated to COVID-19 last year could add more pressure to England’s health service, which already has a record high backlog of 4.6 million people, if they decide to seek treatment now that the pandemic is easing, The Guardian newspaper reported on Tuesday.
According to the news outlet, in 2020 there was a drop of 4.64 million in the number of patients who planned for surgery operations and other treatments compared to 16.62 million in 2019, while general practitioners also referred 6 million fewer people to have diagnostic tests and treatment in hospital as a result of the disruption caused by the pandemic or people’s reluctance to go to hospital in case they caught COVID-19.
The paper added that if only three quarters of those patients decide to seek treatment, the National Health Service waiting list could soar to 9.7 million by 2024.
“The waiting list is already at the highest level it’s been since comparable records began in 2007, and if it did rise from 4.6 million now to 9.7 million by March 2024 as we estimate, that’s more than double the waiting list now,” Tim Gardner, a senior policy fellow at the Health Foundation, was quoted as saying.
The news outlet also claimed that because of the current backlog more people in England are turning to crowdfunding or asking for donations to pay for their medical treatments.