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Coronavirus panic: 'Exhausted' doctors not confident NHS can cope with second COVID wave


A survey by the British Medical Association (BMA) found doctors are experiencing high levels of exhaustion and have little or no confidence over managing the huge backlog of missed patient care. The union said many doctors were found to have very little confidence in the NHS’s ability to deal with the large backlog of misses, cancelled or postponed care. The poll of more than 7,000 doctors from June 16-18 found half (50 percent) were either not very or not at all confident in coping if there was a second spike in COVID-19 infections. Only 36 percent were slightly confident in their ability to cope.

The BMA said there has been a slight increase in the number of doctors suffering from exhaustion compared with previous findings, with 45 percent saying they are feeling stressed.

Nearly a third (32 percent) of those polled said the coronavirus pandemic had increased their stress levels.

The remaining 13 percent said it was not any worse than it was before.

When asked if there had been a change in demand for non-coronavirus care over the last week, nearly half (43 percent) said there had been a significant increase.

Around a fifth (21 percent) said it had returned to the levels experienced before the coronavirus outbreak in March.

BMA council chairman Dr Chaand Nagpaul warned the NHS is in “crisis” and was already a “beleaguered health service” even before the coronavirus pandemic began.

He said: “This is the sixth survey of its kind by the BMA during the pandemic, and as a snapshot it’s clear that the NHS is in crisis and doctors are fearful and exhausted.

“The NHS was an already beleaguered health service with record waits in A&E and hospital waiting lists before this pandemic began.

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“Since then normal services have been put on hold, with resources diverted wholesale to the COVID-19 efforts at the expense of large numbers of other patients.”

Dr Rob Harwood, an anaesthetist who chairs the BMA’s consultants committee, told The Sunday Telegraph that exhaustion, stress and issues with the availability of personal protective equipment, particularly in the early part of the pandemic, has added to the lower confidence.

He said: “They have often been outside of their normal clinical area of expertise. That adds stress.

“The long duty periods are also pretty stressful if you’re frightened.”

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The World Health Organisation (WHO) has warned countries who ease lockdown restrictions too quickly that they risk triggering a second wave of coronavirus infections.

Beijing has been forced back into a firm of lockdown following a spike in coronavirus cases in the Chinese capital.

Sir Patrick Vallance, the UK’s chief scientific adviser, has warned there is a risk of a second peak if “a wave goes across the world”.

On Sunday, the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC)said a further 43 people had died in hospitals, care homes and the wider community after testing positive for coronavirus in the UK as of 5pm on Saturday.

This has increased the death toll from 42,589 the day before to 42,632.

The DHSC also said in the 24-hour period up to 9am on Sunday, 175,018 tests were carried out or dispatched, with 1,221 positive results.

In total, 7,890,145 tests have been carried out and 304,331 cases have been confirmed positive.


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