Responding to the latest NHS England performance figures
, Dr Layla McCay, a director at the NHS Confederation, which represents organisations across healthcare, said: “These figures lay bare the concerns of many health leaders across the country about the unseen impact of coronavirus on the population’s health, and how long it will take to clear the monumental backlog.
"It is very concerning to see the worries of health leaders confirmed by the data: GP referrals for suspected cancer have fallen dramatically; there has been an 85 per cent drop in routine surgical activity compared to the same period last year; and emergency admissions are still far lower than before the pandemic.
"Many of these missing patients still need care, and they will be seeking it, many at a more advanced stage of their illness, at a time when the NHS is still trying to balance the needs of coronavirus patients with the needs of a workforce that is overstretched and exhausted. It will be a real challenge.
“The NHS remains open for business for urgent care, and is eager to resume full services for patients, but this cannot happen immediately – leaders face an uphill battle and will need extra funding and capacity, not least in rehabilitation and recovery services in the community, where so much of the coming demand will be felt.
“These figures should act as a wake-up call that it will take time to recover from the shock of the first phase of the pandemic, and we need patience and understanding from politicians, as well as realistic expectations on what the NHS can deliver.”