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Concerns are being raised regarding delays in diagnosis and treatment for non-coronavirus patients during the COVID-19 pandemic.
With the increased number of people being admitted to hospital requiring intensive care facilities, due to coronavirus, it is understandable that the NHS is finding both equipment and staff stretched to capacity.
While there is great understanding from the public regarding the strain the NHS is under, with many staff having to self-isolate where they believe they have been infected, many existing non-coronavirus patients are experiencing delays in medical treatment or diagnosis having been affected by cancelled appointments or operations.
The NHS has currently suspended the reporting of some statistics including those documenting the number of cancelled operations, and so we may not know the numbers of people affected by cancelled or delayed operations during this period for a number of months.
The effects of a delay in diagnosis, or indeed treatment, can have a profound effect on a patient, with potentially fatal consequences. A patient may find that more invasive treatment is required that would have initially taken place, and as such, may need a longer recovery time, resulting in more time away from work. In some cases, a delay in diagnosis or treatment may mean a condition that would have been treatable at an earlier stage, may result in the patient’s death.
Delays can impact on a patient’s long term work prognosis and as such, their potential income over the remainder of their working life, and this is always something to be considered within a claim for medical negligence.
Under normal circumstances any delay in diagnosis would potentially be a reason to look into making a medical negligence claim. However, as we are in an unprecedented situation, it is not yet clear how claims for these delays will be dealt with. It is therefore recommended that if you have been unfortunate enough to be affected in this way during the pandemic, that you consult a specialist medical negligence solicitor who can advise you of the process you will need to follow.