Hello good reader – Don’t the months just seem to fly by! Trusting that you’ve enjoyed the spring blossoms and had the chance to see the beautiful bluebells in full effect in the countryside, trusting that you’re keeping fit and well, unlike myself who last month had a blood-clot diagnosed, now on anticoagulant meds for the next 5 months, having to limit my physical exertions, which is somewhat frustrating as I’m normally quite active! I’ve focused upon six interesting health-related articles within the media from the past month which I hope that you enjoy reading: –
The NHS is already behind schedule on its routine care recovery plan because Covid-19 patient numbers are rising in hospitals, health chiefs have said a new health tax is being introduced today to help the NHS recover from the pandemic, but MPs have demanded tougher oversight of hospital performance.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the incoming 1.25 percentage point increase in National Insurance would not be a “quick fix” but that the biggest NHS catch-up programme in history would “deliver millions more scans, checks and operations.”
The latest figures from the Office of National Statistics (ONS) show a further 200,000 people have self-reported symptoms of long Covid in the last month. Data published on 7th April shows that around 1.7million people in private households throughout the UK self-reported symptoms of long Covid persisting over four weeks as of 5th March, with the total number of those self-reporting symptoms now representing 2.7% of the UK population, up from 2.1% in January.
One patient, whose details have been kept anonymous, has waited for almost six years to receive hospital care. At the moment there are more than six million people on the waiting list for NHS hospital care. Another woman left waiting for nearly four years to have various NHS surgeries, says the impact of the delays has been “soul destroying.” Across England, some 6.1 million people are waiting for hospital care, including more than 23,000 who have been waiting for more than two years.
For Jo Goulding, who has lived with rheumatoid arthritis since she was seven, said that the wait for surgery has left her in “agonising” chronic pain and “relying on painkillers” to simply get by. The 49-year-old has been on the list for two elbow replacements since 2018, a shoulder replacement since 2019 and only had a hip replacement, which she was waiting for since 2020, in March. Due to the length of the wait, when she was finally seen she needed more extensive surgery because the artificial hip had caused problems with her pelvis. “The pain was eating me up from the inside out, nothing taking the pain away, and the limitations in my life have been soul-destroying”, the mother-of-two explained. “I don’t know how I managed over the last two years. The most upsetting thing is that it’s not just my life, but my family’s lives too, which have been affected.”
Half of England’s small GP surgeries have closed in less than a decade – with more patients forced to travel to ‘soulless’ mega-practises, figures show. Health leaders warned the move threatens the treasured doctor-patient relationship as patients are less likely to see the same medic each time. The number of practises has fallen from 7,816 to 6,522 since the 2015 general election – pushing the average list size up from 7,294 patients to 9,441.
GP practises with fewer than 5,000 patients have halved over that period, with those with more than 20,000 patients have more than trebled. Some have shut completely, leaving patients with no option but to travel, while others have merged with another surgery. Small GP practises are among the most popular with patients, surveys show. They are also associated with better continuity of care, which has been shown to cut the risk of premature death and hospitalisation.
The NHS listed 7,816 GP practises in April 2015. Some 1,375 of these are no longer listed and only 80 new ones have been established. The average list size of practises lost since April 2015 is 4,607 – showing that mergers and closures have disproportionately affected smaller GP practises. Yet practises with more than 2,000 patients skyrocketed from 86 in 2015 to 317 in 2022.
The workforce has lost more than 1 million people since the pandemic began – with 400,000 out of jobs because of health issues such as long Covid – warned a think-tank. Disruption to care and declining mental health is also driving Britons out of jobs, said the Institute for Public Policy Research. Deep health inequalities in the UK mean people live shorter lives, suffer more illnesses and face greater barriers to work, its report claimed. And it added if the issues were not resolved, they would drag down economic activity this year by an estimated £8 billion. Commission co-chair Dame Sally Davies said that “It has never been more important to put good health at the heart of our society and economy.”
COVID-19 hospitalisations are continuing to fall, but (Irish) Taois-each (Prime Minister) Micheal Martin has said he is already thinking ahead to the challenge that will be posed by the virus this autumn and winter.
Meanwhile Denmark has became the first country to suspend its Covid-19 vaccination programme as its health authority said the virus has been brought under control.
So, with another month’s health news summary what’s the ‘take-away’? These reports essentially are suggesting that although this awful virus is subsiding in the main, it is nonetheless leaving its inevitable legacy upon the NHS patient as well as the economy, and to requote Dame Sally Davies from the 27th April Metro (world’s largest circulated free daily newspaper primarily distributed with the M25) “It has never been more important to put good health at the heart of our society and economy.”
Until June, please continue to take care, staying fit and healthy!
MD, Surrey Circle Health – Specialist Private Healthcare Brokers