Patients must not delay visits to the NHS in the second wave of the pandemic, urge health officials

Dr Nikki Kanani, the Medical Director of Primary Care for NHS England and NHS Improvement, said staff had gone to “great lengths” to make sure the NHS could “safely care” for its patients. 

However, a number of experts are concerned the Government has not done enough to actually ensure this is the case. 

Cancer Research UK, the Royal College of Surgeons and the House of Commons Health and Social Care Select Committee are among those that have called for regular testing of all staff to prevent coronavirus outbreaks in hospitals.

It follows repeated warnings that during the first wave, the spread of disease was being fuelled by cases being picked up in hospitals. Without such tests, the NHS risks becoming a largely “Covid-only” service, MPs have warned.

In recent days, growing numbers of hospitals have announced that once again, they are cancelling operations, amid rising numbers of Covid-19 cases. 

Among them are Nottingham University Hospitals Trust, which has cancelled all non-urgent surgery. However, latest figures show that in the week ending October 11, 29 per cases of Covid-19 being treated at its hospitals probably caught it there.

So far, the Government has only said that regular testing will be introduced in the most high-risk areas, leaving most hospitals without it.

While NHS offiicals have instructed the health service to work through a massive backlog of patients waiting for care, and get activity up to 90 per cent of pre-pandemic levels, by the end of this month, medics fear this cannot be achieved. 

The Royal College of Surgeons has raised fears there could be a “tsunami” of cancelled operations this winter as the NHS struggles to cope with a second wave of coronavirus.

Its president Professor Neil Mortensen, has warned that the NHS must not be allowed to “slip back to being simply a Covid-only service”. 

He is among those who fear the effect of a second wave in winter could be worse than the first, with wards already full and staff shortages leaving “everybody scared”.

“It’s always been run on a shoestring, it doesn’t take much to kick it over,” he said.

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