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NHS patients in England face longest waits on record for surgery and cancer care

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Far fewer people are having surgery or cancer treatment because COVID-19 has disrupted NHS services so dramatically, and those who do are facing the longest waits on record.

NHS figures reveal huge falls in the number of patients who have been going into hospital for a range of vital care in England since the pandemic began in March, prompting fears that their health will have worsened because diseases and conditions went untreated.

Patients have been unable to access a wide range of normal care since non-COVID-19 services were suspended in hospitals in March so the NHS could focus on treating the disease. Many patients were also afraid to go into hospital in case they became infected, which contributed to a fall in treatment volumes.

Tim Gardner, a senior policy fellow at the Health Foundation thinktank, said: “The dramatic falls in people visiting A&E, urgent referrals for suspected cancer and routine hospital procedures during lockdown are all growing evidence that more people are going without the care they need for serious health conditions."

“Early diagnosis and prompt treatment of cancer is crucial to saving lives, and delays in referrals and treatment during the pandemic are likely to mean more people are diagnosed later when their illness is further advanced and harder to treat.”

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Source: Guardian, 9 July 2020

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