Region’s doctors fear non-Covid backlog is ‘uncontrollable’

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Doctor / GP / medical

Bedfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) has sought to reassure patients after the British Medical Association (BMA) said the non-Covid backlog is ‘uncontrollable’.

A BMA survey has found that 49% of doctors in the South Central region, which covers Bedford, have “deep concerns” about being able to manage a surge in demand in the coming months.

61% of doctors also say demand has increased significantly in the past week, with 16% saying they had already seen it exceed pre-March levels.

The BMA now says the Government must be honest about the “huge backlog” of patients awaiting NHS treatment in the wake of the Covid-19 (coronavirus) pandemic.

They also recommend an urgent credible plan is outlined, which includes health leaders and staff groups, to make sure staff are redeployed and the sickest non-covid patients are prioritised.

However a spokesperson for Bedfordshire CCG played down the BMA’s findings.

“Bedfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group has been working in partnership with Bedfordshire GP practices throughout the pandemic with a dedicated primary care team supporting practices,’ they said.

“The GP practices have adapted their model of care to patients, by installing new systems, embracing new technology and working closely with community partners to continue offering services.

“We understand that this has been quite a change for patients but would like to reassure them that their GP practice is there for them and services continue to be available.” 

But Dr Chaand Nagpaul, BMA council chair, said that was too little too late, “The NHS entered this crisis severely on the back foot.”

“We had record waits for A&E and cancer care, occupancy levels were dangerously high and we were perilously short of staff,” he said.

The Times has also reported that more than 2 million people are waiting for cancer care alone, with overall waiting lists projected to hit 7 million by autumn.

ONS statistics also show that there have been more than 56,000 excess deaths during the epidemic in England and Wales, with a quarter of these not being due to Covid-19 itself.

“Doctors are rightly worried,” added Dr Nagpaul. “The care they are able to offer non-Covid patients has worsened… they have little confidence they can manage the surge in demand.” 

The Bedfordshire CCG spokesperson responded, “During the Covid emergency, some non-urgent work was postponed.

“However as we have started to see increased demand for services our practices are working hard to provide for patients in new ways, ensuring the safety of patients and staff is their number one priority.”

People in Bedford who need medical help are advised to contact their GP practice, either online or by phone to be assessed.

If patients need urgent medical help, they should use NHS 111 online service or call NHS111. For any serious or life-threatening emergency, they should call 999.

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