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Press release: Doctors concerned for their hospital’s ability to deliver effective care

The RCP has published the results of its latest COVID-19 members survey, revealing doctors' concerns about the second wave of the pandemic. 

The second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic has already had major repercussions on the NHS, with patient admissions rising across all regions of the UK. In a survey of members of the Royal College of Physicians, 89% said they’d seen increasing COVID-19 admissions over the previous two weeks, with over 90% citing increases across the midlands and north of England.

Almost all doctors (92%) are concerned about the impact increasing COVID-19 admissions will have on their hospital’s ability to deliver effective care.

Long delays for diagnostic testing risk exacerbating the situation: 82% of doctors report delays in accessing endoscopy tests (one of the most common diagnostic tests for patients).

A third of doctors (30%) say that non-COVID patients are coming to them with more severe illnesses than prior to the pandemic.

Many clinicians are seeing ‘Long-COVID’ as an emerging problem, with a quarter of doctors (25%) having treated patients with symptoms of ‘Long-COVID’ in the previous 2 weeks. Fatigue was the most common symptom cited.

While access to COVID-19 testing for doctors has improved, delays in getting test results persist. Some 84% of doctors were able to access testing for themselves within 24 hours, but only 29% received their test result within that time frame, 36% waited up to 2 days, 18% 3 days and 13% over 3 days. At least 22% report having had the virus themselves. 

Professor Andrew Goddard, president of the Royal College of Physicians said: “These results confirm that the NHS is in the midst of a second COVID-19 wave, and we face a long and difficult winter ahead.

“Hospitals have been gearing up for this challenge, and access to staff testing and PPE is clearly much improved. We are still seeing delays in processing test results though, and this needs to be addressed urgently to ensure we maintain the staffing capacity to cope.

“We must also do all we can to ensure that services are maintained for our non-COVID patients. This survey shows that patients are starting to present with more severe illnesses than prior to COVID-19, and they need to know the NHS is able to care for them.”

Notes to editors

For more information please contact RCP Media Manager Hannah Perlin by emailing hannah.perlin@rcplondon.ac.uk or calling 0203 075 1466.

For out of hours urgent enquiries, please call 07896 416409.

About the survey

This survey was sent out via an email to approximately 25,500 RCP members in England, Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland on Monday 2 November 2020 and was filled in by 451 people over a period of 24 hours.

This is the seventh survey the RCP has sent to its members during the COVID-19 pandemic. The first six surveys took place on 1–2 April, 22–23 April, 13–14 May, 3-4 June, 21-22 July, and 22-23 September.

Further information about our surveys can be found on our website.