Even while ventilators continue to hiss and treat large numbers of inpatients with covid-19, attention has already turned to “what’s next.” The bulging NHS waiting list is an obvious place to start.
Over half a million patients in Wales are waiting for non-urgent treatment. The Reform think tank predicts that 10 million people could be waiting for surgery in England by April, a sixth of the population. The longest waits are for orthopaedic treatments that, unlike cancer, are considered non-urgent despite the pain and disability from untreated disease. Dealing with the inflated waiting lists has been described by the deputy chief medical officer for Wales as a “mammoth task.” But I hope that the idea of blindly throwing more of the same resources at the problem won’t survive (much like the woolly mammoth).