The issues facing healthcare services in the recovery from Covid-19

The Coronavirus has challenged healthcare systems across the world in ways that most operatives have never known before. A dismal global death toll and infection rates in the millions have potentially altered ways of life across the world for generations to come.

The daily death rate in the UK has shown recent signs of reducing, prompting the Government to ease some of the lockdown measures placed upon the public.

Pressure remains on the NHS and private healthcare, however, as attempts are now made to restore balance and a semblance of normality to medical settings across the country – here we will examine some of the key barriers to be overcome in this delicate period.

A second spike

As countries across Europe and the world try to restore the liberties and freedoms enjoyed by the public before lockdown became a necessity, so too have come warnings that a second ‘peak’ of Covid-19 deaths could come with it.

A proven vaccine for the disease remains unfound, and progress in this area is slow by necessity.

The World Health Organization’s director for Europe Dr. Hans Kluge recently told the Telegraph: “I’m very concerned about a double wave – in the [autumn], we could have a second wave of Covid and another one of seasonal flu or measles.”

Having already seen how the pandemic has strained our health service, it remains unclear if a return to peak-level infections could be handled.

Handling the backload

Non-essential treatments were scrapped to ease the pressure on hospitals and surgeries, but many of these patients remain in need of operations and other procedures.

A six-week action plan has been put forward by NHS bosses in England, but staff and resources have been stretched to their limits in the height of the pandemic.

Balancing the need to give medical workers time off to recover physically and mentally from their exertions during the pandemic and keeping enough staff to meet waiting-time targets is an issue that will require careful management.

Legal issues

Extreme levels of pressure and stress have been placed upon staff members during the pandemic, which can naturally lead to mistakes and, unfortunately, medical negligence claims against professionals.

Some of the wording of the Coronavirus Act 2020 offers healthcare professionals something of a safety net against claims made against treatment given for Covid-19 – something that has become particularly important given that retired professionals and final-year medical students were drafted onto the frontlines in emergency measures.

This may well have resulted in differing standards of care across hospitals, and perhaps even from bed to bed in some settings.

The varying levels of severity in symptoms and difficulties in getting widespread diagnoses is another issue that could result in legal headaches further down the line.

Recovering enough stocks and supplies

Personal protective equipment (PPE) and ventilators became lightning rods for the focus on ensuring that the NHS is properly equipped to keep the public and staff members safe.

The Government’s claims over the amount of PPE being produced and supplied to hospitals were regularly challenged. Stocks of equipment and other vital supplies such as blood and plasma are now at low levels, with donations having understandably dropped during the lockdown.

As the NHS and other healthcare settings look to recover from the damage done by the Coronavirus, remember you can help by limiting your contact with others and staying at home as much as is possible to prevent the spread of the virus and a potential second wave of infections.


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