The British public has been asked to be patient as NHS staff battled with the containment of the coronavirus, with all routine operations and treatments being temporarily put on hold. Cancer patients and those requiring immediate care have been able to access their therapies during the crisis but most surgeries were put on hold as doctors and nurses adapted their services to ensure there is limited risk of contagion. British Medical Association (BMA) Scotland member Dr Lewis Morrison warned some Britons may have to wait “well into” 2021 before they can undergo routine treatment.
Asked when he forecast NHS services to return to normal, Dr Morrison told BBC Scotland: “I think there are probably layers to this.
“Those more pressing issues around cancer and vascular diseases, those are the obvious ones to prioritise initially.
“Things that are more routine are a long way away. Over the next few months, I hope to see the most pressing and urgent things being dealt with.
“I think it’s going to be well into next year before we see lots more routine services restored.”
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Dr Morrison praised Scottish residents for their commitment to helping the NHS cope with the pressure of the COVID-19 outbreak.
But he insisted people concerned about their health should still contact the NHS and health care services to be checked out.
He continued: “The Scottish public have been really patient with the NHS over this period but, clearly, over time people will accrue issues they will want dealt with.
“I completely understand there are people out there worried about their health, and we’ve also said if you are worried the NHS is still open and you need to contact health care services if you’re worried.”
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Vulnerable Britons, which include cancer patients and organ transplant recipients, have seen restrictions to go outside eased this week.
From Monday, they have been able to meet and go outside with one member of another household but have been urged to maintain social distancing measures.
In Scotland and Wales, those most vulnerable are still being advised to stay at home for the time being.
Director of Policy at Macmillan Cancer Support Steven McIntosh welcomed the decision to ease the measures as he claimed vulnerable groups had felt “left behind and forgotten.”
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But Gemma Peters, chief executive of Blood Cancer UK, criticised the timing of the announcement confirming vulnerable English residents would be able to be outside.
Ms Peters said: “The way it has announced this on a Saturday night, with no warning or consultation with charities and clinicians, has created confusion, and this adds to the impression already created that the shielding group isn’t high enough on its list of priorities.”
The Blood Cancer UK executive said the charity is “urgently seeking clarity” from Westminster on the advice and added: “Until we get it, we advise people to speak to their healthcare teams before making any changes.”
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