We have had plenty of anecdotes about people failing to be diagnosed with serious diseases during lockdown. This is thanks to either to hospitals cancelling appointments, GP surgeries stopping face-to-face meetings or people picking up the message that they should protect the NHS by trying not to use it.
Our study shows that the COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in a large number of potentially missed or delayed diagnoses of health conditions, which carry high risk if not promptly diagnosed and effectively treated. Primary and secondary care services must proactively prepare to address the large backlog of patients that is likely to follow. Should a public health emergency on the scale of the COVID-19 pandemic occur in the future, or if subsequent surges in COVID-19 cases arise, national communication strategies must be carefully considered to ensure that large numbers of patients with urgent health needs do not disengage with health services.
Experts said the major study, which included all patients hospitalised with Covid-19 over 10 weeks, showed that diabetes – which is often fuelled by obesity – is driving Britain’s death toll.