Number of people waiting for operations skyrockets due to pandemic

The BBC has recently reported on recent figures from the NHS that show the worsening waiting times in the UK and delays in the healthcare sector within the UK.

The article states that the number of people waiting for operations is highest since 2007 at 4.7 million people.

The increase in waiting times is a direct result of the COVID-19 pandemic which placed a massive strain on public health services due to the increased demand for them.

Professor Stephen Powis stated that treating 400,000 patients with covid over the last year ‘inevitably had an impact on the NHS.’

Overall, 40% of people admitted for covid were during the first two months of the year.

Because of this, people waiting more than a year for non-urgent surgery has seen an increase by 24250% from before the pandemic, a rise from 1600 to 388,000.

Despite the large increase in individuals waiting for treatment, the NHS states that 2 million operations occurred in the winter peak alone.

However, the large rise in waiting times will likely have adverse effects on the economy.

If more workers are ill and are waiting for their treatment, then that means they will be unwell for longer periods.

As a direct result of this, workers will likely take more time off work whilst they are being paid for sick pay.

Because of this, the output per person within the economy will effectively decrease as a larger percentage of the labour force is not actively producing as much as they could be.

Workers not producing as much leads to a fall in output, consequently, the productive capacity of the economy has decreased.

This has adverse effects as the rate at which price levels rise will increase, meaning individuals within the economy, especially those on fixed incomes, such as pensioners, will see a decrease in buying power.

This may force them to switch to consuming inferior goods, which are typically cheaper than normal goods but are unhealthier due to their higher preservative content.

This increased consumption of these inferior foods will amplify the worsening public health as higher preservative and salt contents will cause a rise in the level of obesity.

One of the positives of decreased productive capacity is a decrease in pollution levels due to the reduction in the number of goods and services produced.

However, the falling public health and human costs associated with the decreased productive capacity likely make this trade-off between pollution undesirable.

Because of the worsening health, the NHS has asked for additional funds in an attempt to expand its operating budget.

Due to money being scarce for the public health service, it cannot treat every sick person in the economy, so, increasing its budget will enable the service to increase capacity.

Despite the increase in waiting times likely be a temporary issue as it is attributed to the pandemic, surgeons and other NHS staff have called for further investment in the health service, especially for important operations.

For this reason, the NHS has asked for £1 billion to be given as it would be used to help trusts restore operations to treat people if possible.

This will allow the service to keep up with increasing population growth and public health demands in future years.


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Research compiled by Jonas Theaker.


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