UK doctors are exhausted and are not confident that the NHS can cope with the huge backlog of postponed care due to the COVID-19 pandemic – according to the latest results of a series of pandemic surveys by the British Medical Association (BMA).
The latest tracker survey from the BMA of 7,497 doctors (5,955 in England) found that 64% said there had been a significant increase in demand for non-COVID-19 care and 21% said the levels of demand were higher than before the pandemic began.
Doctors' optimism at the ability to manage patient demand as the NHS tries to manage the backlog is also very low with just 7% having confidence that their local health economy will be able to manage. A quarter of doctors (25%) said they had had no engagement whatsoever from their local health economy about how the increased patient demand will be managed as normal NHS services resumed.
On the question of how they would cope if there was a second spike in COVID-19 infections, 50% of doctors said they were either not very or not at all confident.
The survey showed a slight increase in the numbers of doctors (45%) experiencing stress, exhaustion and burnout.
Dr Chaand Nagpaul, BMA council chair, said: “This is the sixth survey of its kind by the BMA during the pandemic, and as a snapshot, it’s clear that the NHS is in crisis and doctors are fearful and exhausted. The NHS was an already beleaguered health service with record waits in A&E and hospital waiting lists before this pandemic began. Since then normal services have been put on hold with resources diverted wholesale to the Covid-19 efforts at the expense of large numbers of other patients.”
The BMA wants the government to publish “a credible plan” on how this postponed care will be delivered.