We are now beyond 100 days of lockdown due to the Coronavirus pandemic and many of the restrictions in place are starting to ease and lift. It is now that many people are beginning to call for answers with regard the response by the Government to the dramatic effects of Covid-19.

NHS has been under significant pressure to deal with the many thousands of people ill with coronavirus. To ensure the NHS system was not overwhelmed many services, investigations and planned surgeries were cancelled with no indication of when they would resume.

The Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman (PHSO) stopped investigating complaints against the NHS on 26 March 2020 to allow it to focus on tackling the Covid-19 outbreak. Whilst investigations ceased people have continued to contact them to voice their concerns.

Ombudsman, Rob Behrens, noted that patients were reporting concerns about cancelled cancer treatment and incorrect Covid-19 test results. "Complaining when something has gone wrong should not be about criticising doctors, nurses or other front-line public servants, who have often been under extraordinary pressure dealing with the Covid-19 crisis," he said, "it is about identifying where things have gone wrong systematically and making sure lessons are learned so mistakes are not repeated."

The government have not yet committed to an inquiry but accept lessons are to be learned. Whilst the PHSO are pressing the government for information surrounding any potential inquiry, relatives of 450 people who have died in the pandemic have also requested an immediate public review to minimise the continuing effects of the virus, ahead of a full inquiry.

Serious concerns have been raised by various charities around a significant fall in procedures and referrals. The British Heart Foundation estimated 28,000 heart related procedures in England have been delayed in recent months. Cancer referrals had reportedly dropped by approximately 70% by the end of April and at least 10,000 people have missed out on care essential to maintaining their eyesight. All these worrying figures are reported to be as a direct result of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The pressures faced by the NHS in recent months will take time to be resolved. There will likely be delays to accessing diagnoses and treatment for many months to come as many services take time to recover. The NHS have been under a lot of pressure, even before the recent pandemic and Covid-19 has compounded matters. A delay in accessing diagnostic services, treatment and surgery can lead to a serious impact on the prognosis for a patient.

Our specialist clinical negligence team is experienced in supporting and advising people who have suffered avoidable injury due to poor standards of medical care and delayed or inappropriate treatment. If you believe that yourself, or a loved one, has experienced harm as a result of poor care, we may be able to assist you.

Please contact someone in our team for a free, informal discussion:-

Karen Reynolds, Partner (Derby/Stoke on Trent/Birmingham) on 0845 274 6830 karen.reynolds@freeths.co.uk

Carolyn Lowe, Partner (Oxford/Milton Keynes/London/Bristol) on 0186 578 1019 carolyn.lowe@freeths.co.uk

Jane Williams, Partner (Leicester/Nottingham) on 0845 272 5724 jane.williams@freeths.co.uk