The NHS will begin to restore services that had been put on hold to deal with the coronavirus (Covid-19) outbreak, starting today.
Making the announcement in yesterday’s daily coronavirus briefing, health secretary Matt Hancock signalled the ‘exact pace’ at which that restoration would take place would be left to individual hospital trusts.
He said this would be guided by local demand as well as how many patients with Covid-19 were being treated in each hospital.
Mr Hancock said: ‘As the number of hospitalisations from coronavirus begins to fall, I can announce that, starting tomorrow, we’ll begin the restoration of other NHS services. Starting with the most urgent, like cancer care and mental health support.
‘The exact pace of the restoration will be determined by local circumstances on the ground, according to local need, and according to the amount of coronavirus cases that hospital is having to deal with.’
As concerns are mounting about the effect of the pandemic on other health conditions, Mr Hancock also used the briefing to urge patients to continue to utilise the NHS with other health concerns.
Citing A&E statistics that showed usage was down more than 50% on the same period last year, Mr Hancock said patients must ‘come forward and seek help as you always would’ if they suffer worrying symptoms such as chest pain or lumps, or if they are a parent who is concerned about their child.
In the same briefing, Mr Hancock also praised the technological advances made by NHS services in response to the crisis, suggesting that many patients would not want to ‘go back’ after having online consultations with their GPs and specialists.
Urgent suspected cancer referrals by GPs have declined by 72% in Scotland during the conoronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic, with warnings of a similar pattern in other parts of the UK.
Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have all paused routine screening for breast, cervical and bowel cancers, while in England an official position on screening programmes remains under review.