Blog / Covid 19 Update
Now that we appear to be beyond the initial peak of the COVID-19 pandemic it’s natural that people are turning their attention to what comes next, and what a return to a more normal life might look like. This is especially important for those people who were waiting for a diagnostic test or who were listed for, or were considering, a surgical procedure.
Those who are on NHS waiting lists for tests or reflux surgery or who are considering private surgery will be interested in the possible implications. Based on discussions with our network of surgeons here is what we are expecting:
NHS Waiting times – COVID-19 has caused a suspension of almost all routine reflux testing and surgery in the NHS for the last 2 months as resources have been redirected to critical care. It’s likely to be several months before they are resumed in the NHS as other, higher priority procedures, including cancer treatment and emergency surgery, take priority. For this reason, it is quite possible that routine surgery, such as reflux surgery, will not fully resume in the NHS until sometime towards the end of the year. This will be of great concern to those people who suffer daily the consequences of reflux.
Private waiting times – Most private hospitals stopped activity as they were anticipating treating NHS overflow patients. However, since the NHS has coped very well with the COVID-19 crisis, it is likely that private hospitals will start treating patients again in the next few weeks. There will, therefore, be an increase in waiting times for private tests and treatment but this should be a few extra weeks rather than the extra months in the NHS.
Private demand for surgery - We think that the combination of the lockdown and the deferment of NHS procedures will lead to a surge in demand for private reflux surgery.
New surgical processes - We think that when testing and surgery does restart that new processes will be needed to ensure patient safety. The priority will be to maintain a COVID-19 free environment in both NHS and private hospitals. We anticipate that patients will be asked to undergo COVID-19 tests in the days before their test or surgery to reduce the risk of them being admitted with the virus. We also expect there to be added use of PPE during diagnostic tests and even operating theatres, for some if not all procedures. It’s unclear for now but this could potentially push up hospital fees.
This remains a fast-moving situation and this update contains our current thinking on how things might develop. We expect to know more in the next couple of weeks when we expect to see more information on the relaxation of lockdown plans.
Please note this article was written in May 2020 so reflects working practices in place at the time - if you have any questions around current COVID protocols and how it may relate to your consultation or other appointments please get in touch directly.