THE NHS is facing its biggest ever demand — and waiting lists may double as patients seek help post-Covid, Matt Hancock has warned.
The Health Secretary said the 7.1million fewer people added to waiting lists during the pandemic may still require treatment and soon return.
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He added: “We must be prepared. Even with the system running at 100 per cent, if all of that demand came back, we would have the biggest pressure on the NHS in its history.”
It comes as a study by the British Journal of Anaesthesia showed that nearly 1.6million fewer ops were carried out last year amid the pandemic.
Experts predict the surgery backlog could grow to 2.4million by the end of this year.
Official data shows 5.12million patients were waiting for hospital treatment at the end of April.
And England’s chief medical officer Chris Whitty said Britain will likely be hit by another Covid wave this year.
But without social distancing, he warned the UK could also face a major flu outbreak.
He said: “We have to be realistic and get ourselves prepared.”
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