Hundreds of doctors in East say NHS care for non-coronavirus patients is worsening

The BMA's survey shows that hundreds of doctors in East Anglia are concerned over care for non-Coron

The BMA's survey shows that hundreds of doctors in East Anglia are concerned over care for non-Coronavirus patients. Picture: ANTHONY DEVLIN/PA WIRE - Credit: PA Wire/PA Images

Hundreds of doctors in the East of England have “little or no confidence” in the NHS’s ability to provide safe patient care as routine treatments are set to restart, according to the British Medical Association (BMA).

In a BMA survey, 22% of doctors questioned in the region (146) said they were “not at all confident” in being able to manage patient demand in the coming weeks, while another 37% (240) said they were “not very confident”.

The 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.

Nationally, more than 10,000 doctors took part in the survey, with more than two thirds saying they had either little or no confidence that the expected demand could be properly managed.

More than 50 per cent in the region also said the care for patients without coronavirus, already suffering with the situation in their hospital Trust, GP practice or local NHS was getting worse.

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A total of 31% (209) of doctors questioned in the East said care for patients without Covid symptoms was “significantly worsening”, while 23% (153) said it was “slightly worsening”.

Nationally, just under 29% of doctors said care was “significantly worsening”, while just under 26%) said it was “slightly worsening”.

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Dr Chaand Nagpaul, the 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.”

READ MORE - Hospital chief raises concerns about ‘Stay Alert’ messageDr Nagpaul added the lowest level of confidence was for managing demand in the community, such as care homes, with 69% of doctors nationally saying they are not very or not at all confident.

“And yet only days ago, NHS England produced a ‘road map’ to support healthcare services to resume routine treatments and operations in the next six weeks.

“Patients who have not had the care they needed are understandably worried and a delay in any care is a risk, but it is equally wrong to raise expectation in this way if there is simply no way that the demand can be met.

“This is heartbreaking to doctors, indeed all healthcare workers, who want nothing more than to provide the best care for their patients and to avoid delays in essential scans for disease such as cancer.”

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.

The NHS in England launched its roadmap on Thursday, setting out a series of measures intended to help hospitals plan to increase routine operations and treatment,

NHS national medical director Professor Stephen Powis, said then: “The number one priority for NHS staff over the last three months has been ensuring that all those who need urgent care, not just those with coronavirus, have been able to get it when they need it – and we have achieved that.

“Combined with the need to avoid unnecessary contact to reduce the spread of the virus, this has meant that it has been the right thing clinically for some non-urgent appointments and surgeries to be postponed.

“Now that we are confident that we have passed the first peak of coronavirus, it is important that we bring back those services where we can, but only where that can be done safely – the virus is still circulating and we don’t want to put our patients, the public or our staff at greater risk.”

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