More than 28 million people booked appointments with their GP in March making it one of the busiest months ever, and practices expect to remain this busy for many months to come due to the patient backlog caused by lockdowns. The MailOnline has the story.
The figure was five million more than in February – a sudden spike of 20%.
And doctors say they no longer see highs and lows in patient flows throughout the year, and that instead it is like they’re constantly in crisis.
Dr Dean Eggitt, a GP in Doncaster in South Yorkshire, told the broadcaster: “The ability to catch up has gone. That was before Covid. Then Covid hit and then it’s just peak, peak, peak, peak all the time.”
During the height of the coronavirus pandemic people avoided the NHS – having been advised to except in emergencies during the first wave – and officials fear that many have developed serious illnesses like cancers and not been checked.
The number of people dying at home surged to above average levels while non-Covid hospital deaths were less common, suggesting people were missing out on end-of-life medical care.
A&E visits plummeted while the virus was circulating but they have surged again recently with the “worried well” returning to hospital emergency departments.
Dr Eggitt told the BBC: “We have almost a tsunami of patients coming to us. It feels like the river has flooded the banks.
“I see no end of it stopping. It just keeps coming and coming and coming in this one massive endless wave of patients.”
A Health Foundation analysis of NHS data found that there were around 31 million fewer GP practice appointments between April 2020 and March 2021 than in the previous year – 279 million compared to 310 million.
This was likely not a result of fewer people being ill but of fewer visiting their family doctor, meaning millions may have gone without care they usually would have had.
As a result, the patients now turning up to appointments are sicker than they would have been if they had seen a doctor six months ago.
Worth reading in full.