UK patients with cancer and other life-threatening conditions have been admitted to hospitals at far lesser rates as Britain’s National Health Service was prioritizing the fight against coronavirus, a new report shows.
The number of admissions for heart attacks has dropped by 6,000 in March and April compared to last year, the Daily Mail reported, citing NHS data for England. Likewise, there were nearly 137,000 fewer cancer admissions from March to June.
According to the paper, hospital admissions for diabetes and strokes fell by 36 and 17 percent respectively, while similar trends were revealed for dementia and mental health disorders, such as severe depression and anxiety.
The admission rate for non-coronavirus treatment began falling since early spring, when the UK was first hit by the outbreak and hospitals were struggling with the sudden influx of Covid-19 patients. This sparked concerns that prioritizing the fight against coronavirus would cause more people to suffer and die from other conditions.
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A study by the Health Care Research Hub for Cancer in July projected up to 35,000 additional cancer deaths within a year, if the delays in diagnosis and treatment continue.
One of the patients whose life has been impacted by the delays is Sherwin Hall from Leeds. He told RT in July that he had gone to the hospital 13 times between May and early June, begging for an MRI or a CT scan, before being eventually diagnosed with cancer. He said that his repeated requests for a scan were initially denied due to the ongoing Covid-19 outbreak, and he believed that he would have better chances for survival had he been diagnosed earlier.
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NHS medical director Stephen Powis, meanwhile, told the Daily Mail that the majority of admissions were for planned care, not for emergencies. He stated that emergency hospital admissions are “now approaching 95 percent of usual levels with a substantial rebound in routine appointments and operations.”
The officials managed to bring down the coronavirus infection rate by July.