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NHSE to act over fears covid-19 focus could ‘do more harm than virus’

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National NHS leaders are to take action over growing fears that the “unintended consequences” of focusing so heavily on tackling covid-19 could do more harm than the virus, HSJ has learned. 

NHS England analysts have been tasked with the challenging task of identifying patients who may not have the virus but may be at risk of significant harm or death because they are missing vital appointments or not attending emergency departments, with both the service and public so focused on covid-19. 

A senior NHS source familiar with the programme told HSJ: “There could be some very serious unintended consequences [to all the resource going into fighting coronavirus]. While there will be a lot of covid-19 fatalities, we could end up losing more ‘years of life’ because of fatalities relating to non-covid-19 health complications.

“What we don’t want to do is take our eye off the ball in terms of all the core business and all the other healthcare issues the NHS normally attends to."

“People will be developing symptoms of serious but treatable diseases, babies will be born which need immunising, and people will be developing breast lumps and need mammograms.”

HSJ understands system leaders are hopeful that in the coming days they will be able to assess the scale of the problem, and the key patient groups, and then begin planning the right interventions and communications programme to tackle it.

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Source: HSJ, 5 April 2020

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