Routine NHS Referrals Fall By A Third

Routine NHS referrals fall by a third

Back in May, we wrote an article imploring our members to continue seeing GPs about any non-coronavirus-related ailments. We reported that NHS England was warning the public to seek help for cancer symptoms in particular after a study revealed that one in ten people said they wouldn’t contact their GP even if they had a lump or new mole that didn’t go away after a week.

Six months on, referrals for routine NHS hospital care have dropped by a third. 

The Health Foundation has said that during the first eight months of 2020, almost five million fewer people were referred for routine hospital care in England. Missed referrals include things like hip, knee and cataract surgery. 

Part of that no doubt will have been caused by the tremendous strain put on the NHS by the waves of coronavirus patients. Our healthcare system simply isn’t equipped to deal with the overwhelming chaos that this pandemic has caused. 

But another issue has been the number of patients who have delayed in seeking medical help in the first place. In the first wave, many patients chose to postpone care or refused to visit their GPs and specialists for fear of catching coronavirus. And many are doing the same now. Whatever delays may be happening within the NHS, it’s absolutely crucial that you seek help immediately for any health concerns. 

The NHS has been clear: do not delay in seeking help – contact your GP and allow them to refer or chase referrals.

Because of the backlog of people coming forward and expert appointments being made available, the Health Foundation has warned that ‘long waits could become the norm for millions of people’. And this ‘new normal’ could mean waiting for a year to have a standard operation, according to The Royal College of Surgeons in England.

It is absolutely vital that patients continue to visit GPs or talk to their healthcare provider as usual. We know from our own research that HCPs have been offering alternative means of contact, including phonecalls and video appointments – something that no doubt will become increasingly common in this ‘new normal’.

At talkhealth, we’ll continue to spread the message of ‘business as usual’ for non-Covid-19 patients and to offer avenues of contact through our platform.

Join our online clinics and HCP coffee mornings

Remember that we have lots of opportunities for members to contact healthcare providers. Visit our events page to find out more!

Online expert clinics – Every month, we host a range of online expert clinics on all sorts of subjects – from menopause to testicular health. Members write in with issues or questions and wait for one of our experts in that field to answer back.

Coffee mornings – We’ve just launched our Friday coffee mornings of TH+ members. As well as the weekly chats, we’re hosting one morning a month alongside a healthcare expert with whom members can chat directly in real-time.

Webinars – Our members can learn from experts on specific topics before taking part in a Q&A.

We’re always keen for more experts to join our ranks. If you’re interested in taking part, please email

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