Last week, the British Medical Association (BMA) has published a report outlining their estimates around the ‘hidden impact’ of the Covid-19 pandemic on waiting lists.

The BMA has looked at the figures provided by NHS England and compared them to equivalent figures for the past two years, to arrive at new estimates for the potential size of the backlog.

Their figures indicate that there have been 1.5 million fewer elective admissions than normal during the period April to June, and up to 2.6 million fewer outpatient attendances, while the shortfall in urgent cancel referrals estimated at 280,000.

Longer waits are already having a negative impact on patients’ lives. Some have missed out on vital assessment and diagnosis or will be in significant pain. Patients whose care is considered non-urgent, like those waiting for a knee replacement or cataract operation, will also be suffering – especially older patients losing out in quality of life in the last years of their lives.

The BMA has called for the government to set out, in practical terms, how the backlog will be managed as well as timescales for what will be achieved and when, and emphasises that the NHS will require additional resources to have sufficient capacity to deal with the backlog whilst continuing to provide care for COVID patients.

Flexible healthcare infrastructure, such as mobile or modular operating theatres and wards, should be part of the solution. These facilities can provide extra capacity as a stand-alone ‘cold site’ adjacent to the main hospital building, adding much-needed capacity, minimising any Covid-19 risk to patients and reassuring them it’s safe to attend procedures.

The Scottish government recently announced it would be using mobile endoscopy units as one of the ways it intends to increase capacity in order to deal effectively with the endoscopy backlog. Vanguard’s wide range of mobile and modular units can be set up very quickly to provide additional capacity for almost any surgical procedure, as well as endoscopy, to help reduce waiting lists.

The BMA paper can be downloaded by visiting this link.

https://www.bma.org.uk/news-and-opinion/the-hidden-impact-of-covid-19