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As we enter into a new year, it is only natural to reflect on the previous year. Few years have had such a seismic impact as 2020.
The Coronavirus pandemic has had a profound impact on the medical profession, with subsequent consequences no doubt set to last for many years. In the UK alone, there have been more than 70,000 COVID related deaths, with the figure unfortunately due to rise further as we continue into 2021.
However, in addition to the number of deaths as a direct result of coronavirus, a number of medical bodies and professionals have raised concerns about the ongoing impact that the virus has had. In particular, NHS performance statistics – published in the Guardian, illustrate a grave impact on individuals. The number of people waiting for treatment has reached 4.44million – the second highest figure on record. Although this encompasses a range of treatment, delays can have a significant impact on patient outcomes and lead to delayed diagnosis claims as a result.
When the UK entered into the first lockdown in March 2020, elective surgery was cancelled by most NHS Trusts, allowing them instead to focus on utilising resources for those impacted by COVID. However, the second lockdown and subsequent increasing number of COVID cases has made it near on impossible for trusts to clear the backlog and reduce waiting times. This has wide reaching consequences for individuals, including further suffering and pain and in some instances additional surgery or longer hospital stays. It is unknown what consequences this will have on the number of hospital negligence claims.
The figures show that in October 2020, 162,888 people in England had waited more than a year for non-urgent planned procedures. This was the highest number of patients waiting since October 2008. This is a sharp increase of 123% when compared to the same period, the previous year whereby there was only 1,321 cases. In addition, these figures have increased over the past few months with no sign of them slowing down.
Medical negligence solicitors, Blackwater Law also believe that in addition to these figures, there is likely to be a number of other individuals who are being missed due to either not attending the GP or hospital because they are vulnerable and are therefore delaying attending the surgery or because they want to allow the NHS to prioritise COVID patients. This can have a huge impact on their outcomes and required treatment, should they have a serious condition. It is unknown at this stage what impact there will be on delayed diagnosis compensation, but it is likely that unfortunately many patients may suffer further compensation due to a delayed diagnosis.