Labour calls for plan to deal with non-Covid clinical need backlog

Elliot Chappell

Jonathan Ashworth has called on the government to provide a plan to deal with a “growing and alarming backlog” of non-coronavirus clinical demand, and to ensure that “every patient receives the care they need”.

Responding to the publication of NHS statistics today, the Shadow Health Secretary warned that the “far reaching consequences for wider health outcomes must not be ignored” by the government during the pandemic.

The data revealed that A&E attendance in England was down 57% in April compared with the same month last year, while just 20,900 999 calls were answered – the fewest since this figures was first collected in 2017.

Ashworth said: “Today’s figures suggest a growing and alarming backlog of clinical need with patients waiting longer for operations or diagnostic tests. GP referrals are down and patients are avoiding A&E and calling out ambulances.

“We support the lockdown to suppress this horrific virus but the far reaching consequences for wider health outcomes must not be ignored.

“Resetting the NHS to continue treating Covid and non-Covid patients is a huge priority. We’re calling on ministers to urgently come forward with a resourced plan to ensure every patient receives the care they need.”

The figures published by the NHS today have added to concerns that many people with serious and immediate health problems are not seeking the medical attention that they need.

The number of coronavirus-associated deaths in the UK currently stands at 33,186 according to Public Health England. There are 229,705 confirmed cases – but with low levels of testing the figure is thought to be much higher.

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