Physicians express concern over treatment delays in pandemic

A SIGNIFICANT majority of physicians (60 per cent) are concerned for patients under their care who might have suffered harm or complications following diagnosis or treatment delays during the pandemic, according to a July survey conducted by the Royal College of Physicians London.

The survey answered by 1,029 RCP members on 22 July also found that 79 per cent of respondents reported having access to an COVID-19 antibody test, with a quarter of those testing positive.

Nearly 74 per cent respondents also reported that their rotas have returned to normal, with 10 per cent still working in a different clinical area, which is down from 22 per cent from a survey conducted in early June.

Almost two thirds (64 per cent) of respondents report that they have not been involved in conversations about preparing for a second wave – and among those who have been involved such conversations, 93 per cent say they are preparing on the assumption that a second wave of COVID-19 is likely or extremely likely.

The survey also found that 56 per cent of respondents report having had a formal risk assessment, up from 24 per cent in the June survey.

This is the fifth survey RCP London has sent to its members during the COVID-19 pandemic. Previous surveys were sent to members on 1 April, 22 April, 17 May, and 3 June 2020.

Professor Andrew Goddard, president of the RCP, said: "Delays to treatment are so often a major issue for the NHS but as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s fair to say we’ve reached crisis point. Doctors are, understandably, gravely concerned that their patients’ health will have deteriorated to the point where they will need much more extensive treatment than previously, at a time when NHS resources are already incredibly depleted.

"We also cannot underestimate the need to prepare for a second wave of COVID-19 infection, which threatens to compound the situation. Without careful and rigorous preparation, a second wave coupled with the winter flu season, could overwhelm the NHS."