In this article in The BMJ, Farah Hameed highlights that the backlog of care in the aftermath of the Covid-19 pandemic is having a significant and detrimental effect on primary care services, not just elective hospital treatment. The combined impact of patients not coming forward for treatment during the pandemic, and hospitals having to cancel non-urgent procedures and routine clinics, has led to a huge backlog of patients living with conditions that are gradually getting worse. It is primary care that has to support these patients in the absence of capacity in secondary care. Consultant-led hospital services rejecting GP referrals due to lack of capacity is a major problem, with the number of GP referrals rejected due to lack of slots jumping from 238,859 in February 2020 to 401,115 in November 2021.
Farah argues that emphasis must be placed on how tackling the build-up of care in our communities can help the wider system. For example, making GP continuity of care a policy priority would be a cost-effective way of improving patient outcomes and reducing the burden on other parts of the healthcare system, including secondary care.
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