Health watchdog report: patients facing ‘catastrophic health impacts’ from appointment cancellations

New research suggests that patient health is suffering hugely due to continued delays and cancellations of NHS appointments and operations. As part of the report, released by independent watchdog Healthwatch England, over 1,000 people who had experienced cancellations or postponements of their care were surveyed. Two thirds of respondents said the cancellations had caused issues such as exacerbated symptoms, worsened mental health and disrupted sleep patterns. Almost one in five people had their care cancelled on the day of the appointment itself.

The report also found that over half had not been offered support by the NHS to help manage their condition during the wait for a new appointment, while four in five people were offered very little or no support whatsoever to help manage their mental health risks.

There has been a considerable amount of highly publicised industrial action affecting the NHS recently, with 819,000 appointments, procedures and operations being postponed over the last eight months. The Healthwatch report was published less than 24 hours after junior doctors in England announced further strikes planned for August, which will cause further disruption and upheaval to thousands more patients.

Healthwatch also claimed that the cancellations affected certain groups more than others, including carers, ethnic minorities and people with disabilities. You can read the full report here.

How can we help reduce the burden?

With the NHS under more pressure than ever before to keep up with demand, particularly amid continued industrial action, we believe that more widespread self-testing could play a considerable part in reducing the burden. Newfoundland tests allow people to take action when they are concerned about a health issue. This can provide reassurance and peace of mind, or alternatively yield a test result that can be discussed with a medical professional, leading to faster diagnosis and treatment.

Patients are currently having to wait weeks and even months for routine appointments or for test results to come from the lab. The rapid testing movement allows and empowers people to take advantage of immediate and accurate results. Outpatients can also monitor their health from the comfort of their own home, without the need to travel to an appointment, freeing up precious time and resources of the NHS doctors and technicians.

Yesterday a watchdog report revealed the full scale of the ‘catastrophic health impacts’ caused by the repeated cancellation and postponement of NHS appointments and procedures.

The report, published by @Healthwatch, laid bare how patients in England are being let down by a health service struggling to keep up with demand, particularly in the face of continued health strikes. Click the link in our bio to read to more about what this means and how self testing can help ease the burden.