'No clear policy' to manage huge patient demand, say doctors

A doctor working in Havering and Hackney has said a conversation about the recovery plan is needed 

A doctor working in Havering and Hackney has said a conversation about the recovery plan is needed - Credit: Ken Mears/Holly Chant

Doctors in east London are calling for politicians to have an "honest conversation" with the public as they wait for guidance on how to tackle the huge backlog of patients caused by the pandemic.

It comes after a survey by the British Medical Association (BMA) revealed doctors were "not confident" that the NHS would be able to manage the current influx of demand.

Dr Ben Molyneux says medical teams are awaiting news on how to tackle the patient demand influx

Dr Ben Molyneux says medical teams are awaiting news on how to tackle the patient demand influx - Credit: Ben Molyneux

GP Dr Ben Molyneux, who has worked at Homerton and Queen's hospitals through the pandemic, said: "I don't think there is a very developed conversation locally about recovery yet.

"I think it needs to start from the centre and I don't think Matt Hancock and the Department of Health and Social Care have set out any clear policy direction for local leaders to take up.

"I think there's a vacuum, we're waiting for the centre to give us some parameters to work with because it's going to require either diverting resources from one thing to another or extra money."

The same BMA survey showed more than 54 per cent of healthcare professionals feel they have not been engaged by local health leaders to plan a recovery.

The BMA London Regional Council (LRC) has written to leaders of the Integrated Care Systems (ICS) calling for an honest conversation about the backlog.

Dr Gary Marlowe, chair of the BMA London Regional Council, said: “As these survey findings show, frontline doctors have very real concerns about the indirect and long-term impact of the pandemic on their patients’ health and on their own wellbeing.

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“Owing to more than a decade of underfunding, our NHS went into the pandemic short on staff, short on capacity and short on resources.

“We need a commitment from health leaders that we will be given the right support needed to deal with the backlog."

A spokesperson for the NHS in London said it is engaging with the public: “Our priority is ensuring that the NHS in London is accessible to every patient that needs it and we’re continuing to work with our ICSs and clinicians to ensure they receive the support they need to make this happen.”  

Havering councillor Jason Frost, who is the cabinet member for health, said: “We are not speaking directly with the DHSC, however we are working locally to support our health partners in trying to get health services back up and running in what has been a very difficult time.”

Hackney Council has been contacted for a comment.

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