Leading medics have expressed “fear” over the forthcoming winter as the NHS grapples with a record backlog of care, a potentially bad flu season and coronavirus cases.
Meanwhile the blood tube shortages could also be having a big impact on the waiting list, MPs on the Health and Social Care Committee have heard.
Dr Andrew Goddard, president of the Royal College of Physicians said that a difficult winter in the health service may also result in a growing waiting list.
“During winter what we’d normally see is that the medical wards get full we spill-over and the ward becomes a ‘Winter Ward’ is normally an orthopaedic ward,” he said.
“So immediately (surgeons) cannot operate on people who are on the waiting list. I do not see that being any easier this winter, and if anything, I think it’s going to be much worse this winter because of Covid infection prevention but also we’re expecting a bad flu season this year.
“So I think that the £5.4 billion funding is fantastic news, but let’s be under no illusions this winter is going to be remarkably hard, and it’s going to impact waiting lists, probably more than anywhere else.”
On the shortage of blood tubes, he added: “Clearly at the moment, you know, getting blood tests, is a real problem. We do 1.7 million blood tests a week in the NHS, that number has been significantly curtailed because of the blood bottle shortage.
“So it seems likely that there are going to be added complications in which will lead to further delays in diagnosis, you can’t start a treatment and therefore get off the waiting list until you have a diagnosis.”
Emergency medicine specialists have also expressed concern over the forthcoming winter months.
Dr Katherine Henderson, president of the Royal College of Emergency Medicine, said: “We’re in a real pinch point at the moment so we’re equally fearful of winter.”