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Christian Medical Fellowship says we need to prepare the NHS for future crises

by Heather Preston

A nurse from the Christian Medical Fellowship says there are big problems that must be addressed to future-proof the NHS, following the coronavirus pandemic.

It comes as the NHS Confederation has warned that around 10 million people will be on the waiting list for NHS treatment by the end of the year - more than double the current figure.

Health bosses have said there'll be a backlog of patients to get through after the pandemic, as well as a number of staffing issues.

Steve Fouch from the Christian Medical Fellowship (CMF) tells Premier the NHS is going to have a lot of problems in the coming months as Covid-19 has meant other health conditions have had to take a backseat.

"A lot of routine screening appointments, things that would have picked up health problems from cancer to diabetes, haven't happened. And those health problems haven't gone away. As a consequence, a lot of problems haven't been treated and dealt with and a lot of waiting lists have been delayed."

Fouch explains that in order to adhere to social distancing measures a lot of services will have to run at 60 per cent capacity and the public will need to consider whether their particular health concerns require visiting a doctor or can be managed at home.

"We have a shortage of GPs, nurses, doctors etc. We've got contingencies and resources in place but there's only so much we can do at the moment. You will be waiting longer for appointments, routine surgery, scans and treatments and it is not going to get better for quite a few months, maybe not until well into next year. That's the grim reality," he said. 

An initiative has been launched to hold a final nationwide thank you clap for the NHS on Sunday 5th July to celebrate the hard work and dedication of key workers.

The campaign, which would coincide with the NHS's 72nd birthday has been backed by the Archbishop of Canterbury.

The Most Rev Justin Welby said: "This crisis has in many ways made us more grateful for each other and more indebted to the workers who put themselves at risk to keep our country running and protect the vulnerable. It has shown people at their best - volunteering, helping neighbours, protecting those at greatest risk, pulling together as communities to support one another."

Fouch thinks the initiative is a nice "gesture", but that we need to focus more on the issues facing the health service.

"It's good that the nation has rallied and shown its support, gestures like this help, but the long term issues of how well we resource the NHS, how we recruit and train staff, pay, conditions - all the things that have bubbled up to the surface during this crisis are not going to be solved by that.

"We need to be asking how we're going to run our health service in the future, how we can prepare it for crises like this in the future, but also the crises that come every year."

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