COVID-19 second peak could see almost 10 million patients waiting for NHS services, according to new tool

Patients can estimate waiting lists for treatment at hospital with the tool from digital hospital Medbelle.
By Tammy Lovell
12:59 am
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Credit: Medbelle

A free online waiting list estimation tool for NHS patients, has predicted that almost 10 million people could be waiting for NHS services by the end of the year if there is a second peak of the COVID-19 virus.

The tool, by UK digital hospital Medbelle, uses publicly available data published by the NHS to estimate waiting lists for elective treatments, based on former NHS capacity. 

Users can toggle NHS capacity by scenario, treatment and hospital to get estimates on how long waiting lists will be in any given month. 

Medbelle has developed different scenarios for NHS capacity that will impact patient waiting lists, including a second peak of the COVID-19 outbreak and two scenarios that see the NHS operating at 80% and 50% capacity once services resume after July.

The estimation tool has two parts: an overview, which can be accessed online, and a hospital-specific section, which can be accessed via email signup on the same site.

WHY IT MATTERS

The tool predicts more than seven million people will be waiting for treatment by the end of July, under the current policies – an increase from the 4.5 million patients who were already on the waiting list at the end of February 2020. 

UK patients had already been waiting for an average of three months before the COVID-19 crisis forced all elective surgeries to be postponed by an additional three months. The unprecedented situation will require patients to adjust their scheduling expectations for surgery going forward.

THE LARGER CONTEXT

Founded in 2016, Medbelle is a digital hospital that focuses on providing end-to-end care for elective procedures.

Meanwhile, healthcare AI and predictive data firm Draper & Dash is helping NHS trusts to predict peak capacity and plan resources effectively using the COVID-19 Impact and Assessment Tool (IAT). This uses a number of live COVD-19 global data sources to model the impact of increased demand at a local level.                  

ON THE RECORD

Leander de Laporte, CEO and co-founder of Medbelle, said: “Understandably, the NHS is under extreme pressure to treat the onslaught of patients who have been admitted to hospital for COVID-19 treatment. This necessary re-allocation of resources has consequently led to immense uncertainty for those who had already been waiting for treatment for procedures unrelated to COVID-19.”

Sebastian Winkler, head of new ventures at Medbelle and creator of the tool, said: “We originally created the waiting list estimation tool for internal planning - however, it became apparent that there is high demand for this kind of information from patients who have been waiting for treatment.”

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