Coronavirus latest: Millions of Britons could be stuck on waiting lists until Christmas
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More than four million patients in England were forced to wait for routine operations last August, an increase of 250,000 from the previous year.
But the coronavirus pandemic threatens to double that number with treatment delays triggered by the virus.
In a move to control the pandemic, health officials put pressure on hospitals to cancel operations to make away for patients affected by the virus.
The decision allowed hospitals to regulate the flow of new arrivals brought on by the pandemic, but as a result, non-virus patients have had treatment rescheduled until later this year.
The NHS confederation reports that number could rise to 10 million people as early as Christmas.
However, bosses believe it could be reduced if a vaccine is found before then.
Experts estimate it could take two years to work through the backlog of patients brought about by the coronavirus pandemic.
Niall Dickson, chief executive of the NHS Confederation, has penned a letter to Prime Minister Boris Johnson to inform the public of the huge expected delays.
Also in the letter, Mr Dickson aims to seek assurances about personal protective equipment (PPE) and the success of the Government’s track and trace system.
The chief executive spoke of the urge for the information to be released to the public.
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Mr Dickson said: ‘Political leaders have a vital role to play in reassuring the public that every step possible is being taken to manage the virus, while safely bringing back services that had to be paused.
He also hopes to secure further support from the independent sector to provide the capacity to help the NHS deal with the backlog of patients.
Ministers have bought up several supplies to aid the NHS, purchasing 8,000 beds at the cost of 2.4million a day.
Cancer patients have been hit hard as a result of the virus.
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Cancer Research estimates 2.1 million patients have had a crucial screening for breast, cervical and bowel cancer postponed.
More than 21,000 of which have had surgery such as chemotherapy and radiotherapy delayed throughout lockdown.
Cancer patients are also nervous to enter hospitals due to the possibility of contracting the virus.
Sarah Woolnough, policy chief at Cancer Research UK cited the delay as extremely worrying.
She said: “We’re going to have this huge backlog to clear.
It’s a massive backlog of services and treatment to deliver. It’s absolutely huge, it’s thousands and thousands and thousands.”
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