Patients more likely to end up in hospital after Covid disruptions

Patients more likely to end up in hospital after Covid disruptions

July 20, 2023

Patients who had appointments or operations cancelled during Covid were 80% more likely to end up hospitalised for a ‘preventable’ condition, major study finds

  •  The study was commissioned by universities of Glasgow, Bristol and Liverpool

Patients who had appointments, treatments and surgery cancelled as a result of the pandemic were 80 percent more likely to be later admitted to hospital for potentially preventable illness, research has revealed.

The major study, which was commissioned by the universities of Glasgow, Bristol and Liverpool, comes after previous studies on the damage left behind by the virus’ impact on the healthcare service.

Approximately 35 percent of people experienced disruptions to their healthcare services between March 2020 and August 2022, researchers estimated, leaving them exposed to a higher risk of hospitalisation.

Patients who had treatments and surgery procedures delayed were 77 percent more likely to be hospitalised for conditions that could more often than not be handled by local medical services, such as toothache.

Slightly more severe conditions such as angina, high blood pressure or asthma attacks were 88 percent more likely to require hospital treatment at a later date.

Around one in seven patients (15.4 per cent) did not get a consultation the last time they tried to book one, according to the 2022 GP Patient Survey

Those who struggled to get an appointment with a GP were 52 percent more likely to be admitted to hospital if the ailment was left untreated.

When conducting the study, researchers adjusted for other potentially influential factors and concluded that people who had any form of delay or disruption to a healthchare service were 80 percent more likely to need care in hospital.

Dr Mark Green, a reader in health geography from the University of Liverpool, told the Telegraph that disruption to healthcare might have ‘lead to disproportionate decline in functioning’ where patients were unable to access ‘non-emergency treatment’.

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Dr Green said that patients waiting for arthritis treatment ‘might have been living in pain longer than they would have normally’.

Months on from the end of the pandemic as a global threat, the NHS is still wading its way through the backlog of appointments, with 7.47million patients waiting for treatments at the end of May in England alone.

This marks an increase of 50,000 from April and is the highest number on record for the NHS since they began in 2007.

Approximately 385,020 patients had waited for over a year for treatment in May, according to figures released this week.

According to the latest study, a total of 9.742 participants (35 percent) admitted to suffering from disruption to care during the pandemic, nearly half of which were suffering from conditions such as asthma, diabetes and high blood pressure.

Diabetes UK policy manager, Nikki Joule said: ‘The Covid-19 pandemic had a major impact on healthcare services in England’ and that ‘serious consequences’ were now being felt for many with the condition.

Ms Joule paid testament to healthcare workers, saying they are ‘working incredibly hard’ but are often ‘too stretched’ to provide the right care and support.

Associate medical director at the British Heart Foundation, Dr Sonya Babu-Narayan admitted that disruption to cardiovascular care could potentially lead to the the risk of permanent disability due to avoidable ‘heart failure’.

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