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Patients in north-east London are having to wait up to 21 weeks for a routine blood test on the NHS because of a substantial coronavirus-enforced backlog.
Local MP Margaret Hodge has warned that the hold-ups could lead to patients receiving a late diagnosis of their illness and being forced to wait many months to have surgery. It is reported that people with cancer, kidney problems, diabetes and eye problems are among those affected.
NHS England has seen the need to declare the problem a ‘system serious incident’ and has consequently launched an investigation into whether they have led to anyone being harmed. It is looking in particular at the clinical history of those who have had to wait the longest.
Hodge, the Labour MP for Barking and Dagenham, has written to Health Secretary Matt Hancock describing the delays as ‘wholly unacceptable’ and demanding action. In her letter, Hodge pinpoints the decision to suspend the blood testing service in March, when the pandemic was unfolding, as the main reason for such unusually long delays.
Rachel Power, the chief executive of the Patients Association, said: “It has become clear that the emergency measures taken in the spring to free up NHS capacity for Covid-19 came at a heavy cost to non-Covid patients. Many people have been left feeling increasingly anxious over the suspension of planned treatment or their inability to get diagnostic tests.
“We know the NHS is working to restart these services, and aims not to have to suspend them in the same way during the second wave. It’s important that they succeed.”
Glen Hodgson discusses some of the recent Scan4Safety findings as well as why point-of-care scanning will improve patient safety for years to come