Covid-19: The NHS Faces Unrelenting Pressure

The tedious, prolonged pandemic has put the NHS under unrelenting pressure. The large number of patients and financial constraints has severely affected NHS staff and operations. The long queue for medical treatment is evidence of instability in the structure of the NHS.

Patients Waiting For NHS Tests

“Almost 124,000 patients are waiting more than three months for NHS tests in England”.

NHS patients are now waiting more than three months for tests including MRIs, colonoscopies and heart scans, with overall waiting lists double that of 2019 in some parts of England.

More than half of the patients who have been on a waiting list for over six weeks across England require one of three tests: ultrasound not associated with pregnancy, “echo” scans used to detect possible heart disease or MRI.

It is clear that the pandemic has “disturbed every aspect of healthcare delivery”, said Rachel Bauer, chief executive of the Patients Association.

The NHS needs to present care at a faster rate than there are patients with new needs. To achieve this, strong leadership and more resources (human and financial) are needed.

There are large numbers of patients waiting for tests. An NHS England spokesman said treating more than 400,000 critically-ill Covid patients had an inevitable  impact on other parts of the health service, but that the system was “showing strong signs of  recovery including diagnosis”.

Covid-19: Supply Chain Problems Could Delay NHS Tests

The UK’s struggling Covid-19 testing system faces further disruptions following a failure in the supply chain of critical test kits made by the drug company Roche.

Biomedical scientists have warned that the problem, which is due to the use of a new warehouse, could also affect testing across a whole range of conditions.

This is the second glitch this week to affect England’s Test and Trace system, after an IT system error left 16,000 tests unreported, leading to artificially low statistics for the spread of the virus and delaying contact tracing efforts.

Roche, one of the main suppliers of Covid-19 polymerase chain reaction (PCR) and antibody tests for the NHS Test and Trace system, went live with the distribution of goods from its new national distribution centre in Sussex in September. On Monday 5 October, in a letter to customers, it announced that the disruptions “May not be resolved for 2-3 weeks”, advising them to activate local contingency plans on priorities for essential services.

Xiao Jun Wang, professor of operations management at Bristol university, said that the “Supply problems could have a significant impact on the Test and Trace system depending on the inventory level of swabs, screening kits and reagents in the labs and how long this supply disruption lasts”.

He added: “This is very bad timing when the UK is experiencing a new wave of increasing Covid-19 infections and the surging demand for testing.”

Test figures for the next few days need to be closely watched to assess their real impact.

It certainly creates more obstacles in achieving the daily testing capacity of 500,000 by the NHS in England, which has faced many problems in 2027.

The government is responsible for doing two things. Firstly, it must deal with the mental and physical traumas caused for patients by the pandemic and provide them with healthcare services; and secondly, it must create a system of healthcare that can tackle both the health inequalities and other weaknesses that Covid-19 has exposed.

Currently, more patients are admitted to hospitals as compared with the previous peak in April.

The NHS is being asked to focus on delivering vaccines. Hence, care for non-Covid patients is lagging behind, or has even stopped, resulting in longer waiting times for diagnosis and treatment.

Covid-19 has also badly affected mental health, the long-term effects being noticeable in one estimate indicating that up to 10 million people will require new or additional mental health support.

Staffs absences caused by both infections and the need to self-isolate, is currently having a material effect on the ability of the NHS to care for patients infected with the virus, as well as those who need treatment for other reasons.

The pandemic has created weaknesses in social care and public health.

The government has neglected social care, the public health budget has been reduced and there is inequality in providing health services.

The differential effect of the pandemic on ethnic minority groups and deprived communities has underlined the deep roots of health inequalities and the need for a comprehensive plan of action to level up.

Health inequalities require action across the country and the government must increase care services to acceptable standards.

Pressures on the NHS over a long period of time have spiked the cost of advanced treatments and specialist staff must be hired. A victim of its own success, the NHS has created an ageing population which needs more care and more funding.

There are also certain disadvantages to the government’s participation in the healthcare system as its active role weakens the functionality of market mechanisms. In addition, the tight control on medical expenses has led to a lack of equipment, doctors and nurses in public hospitals. Finally, with free medical services provided for everyone, the public tends to make excessive use of these services. As such, it is common to encounter long queues in the NHS.

The NHS Spends 14% of its Budget on Management, MPs Revealed

The NHS spends 14% of its entire budget – about £15.4bn a year – on management and administration, an influential common committee revealed today. A report by the health select committee accuses the Department of Health of burying the figures, which the MPs claim is due to the local NHS organisations’ failure to commission services properly.

How Much Does the NHS Cost Per Person Per Month?

The NHS service is funded by general taxation and National Insurance Contributions (NCI). In recent years, healthcare has accounted for just around 19% of government spending.

So it can be said that around 19% of what a worker pays in income tax and national insurance (NI) – the two employment-based tax streams – goes on healthcare.

Taxpayers are paying nearly £5,000 a year each for the NHS. So, despite the fact that people think the service is for free, they are actually paying the price of hip replacements each year in the form of higher taxes.

Now a leading medical service has warned that government plans to exempt a million low-paid workers from tax altogether within the next five years will only heap further misery on hard working families.

Chief Executive John Wilkes said that figures would shock many people who think of the NHs as free. He said: “We calculate the cost of taxpayer of the NHS from the latest available data, because we think most hard working individuals have no yardstick by which to judge the true cost of good healthcare.

“Just because the NHS is largely free at the point of delivery doesn’t mean that it is actually free. We believe many people will be shocked by just how much access to healthcare via the NHS already costs.”


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